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Keep Calm and Manage

Last week I was talking to a manager who expressed concerns about one of his team leaders, Kevin. Kevin was promoted last year. He can cope with most of the day-to-day aspects of the job and is generally very capable. The issue is that if work piles up a red mist descends and Kevin loses control of his temper. His fury is mostly directed at himself but other people in the business are starting to be aware of these lapses and some colleagues feel a bit uncertain about him and don’t really want to deal with him now.

When you take on a new role which involves managing a team, you’ll be under scrutiny. The way you interact with your team and others can have a direct impact on those you’re leading. It’s important to give the appearance of confidence, calm and competence, even if you don’t feel it. A passing moment of anger or impatience may damage your team’s morale and undermine their trust (and that of others) as Kevin is now finding out.

Your leadership style will have a direct impact on those you are leading and managing for the first time. So how do you go about building a calm leadership presence that has a positive impact on your team and colleagues?

Set yourself a leadership values-based goal. How you define the role and what you value will send a message out to those you work with. As a new manager, give some thought to the kind of leader you are and hope to be.

Increase your emotional intelligence and situational awareness. The role of manager means getting more work done through others, so recognise that what motivates or influences you may not be how others are motivated or influenced.

Be clear and direct, and always communicate with courtesy. Strong leadership is dynamic and fluid, and encourages a two-way dialogue where you can give voice to your views while staying open to the views and perspectives of others as you work towards a common goal.

Know what you think. Before important meetings or interactions, jot down a few bullet points to yourself: i.e. what are the three things I believe about this topic or issue?

Ask, listen, and acknowledge. Show you are really listening by asking probing questions, clarifying what you’ve heard, or acknowledging how you’re processing the information.

Explain your thinking. Make your message more powerful by sharing your reasoning. Help connect work deliverables or professional development to what’s happening at the organisational level. For example, in giving feedback to a team member, you could include additional context such as: “Because the business is growing so fast, there is opportunity for each member of the team to stretch and step up in the following ways. It would be great if you could take on .......”

Be a stable presence in the face of change, stress, or difficult news. When business is going well or when we are having a good day, it’s easy to be an effective presence. But as a new manager, ask yourself: “What do people experience when I’m stressed out, tired, under deadline, or bring me bad news?”

Step back and think about your leadership presence. Are you thinking, saying, and showing up as you most hope to and intend?

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2018 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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