Throughout early adulthood I never really liked the idea of being a manager. I loathe ordering people to do things, and chafe under similar direction myself. And since (for various reasons) that was what I thought managers did when I was younger, I decided I never wanted to be one. Yet over the course of my life I’ve often found myself in people and project manager roles. Occasionally they’ve been formal positions, but most of the time they aren’t. Usually something important needs to get done, no one else is doing it, and so I seem to end up in the authority figure role by default.
That’s fine. As long as the work gets done.
The first few times I was thrust into such roles, however, I had to deal with the uncomfortable fact that people were looking to me to direct them. And I found the prospect of ordering them do things (and them hopping to it) to be unsettling.
…So I didn’t. Instead I asked, and then always thanked them for their specific efforts after. In fact, to date, I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a direct or indirect report to do anything. I communicate expectations, request people help where they’re needed, and tell them I appreciate them after.
1. Post for another day?I’ve said before that I’m a functional manager rather than a great one 1, but my proclivity to influence rather than exert pressure in situations where I can do so is not one of the things holding me back from greatness. Rather, when I’ve been effective at leading teams I think one of the biggest variables working in my favor is that the people I was managing knew I was invested in the outcome of the project, not my authority and credit.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. Again, I’ve got plenty of weaknesses. But as I continue my journey to get a more holistic picture of the HR function, one thing I’m noticing is that everyone has different ideas on what the most effective style of leadership is. So I guess I’m sharing the pros of my leadership style today in the hope that others will tell me where they disagree/what they do differently so that I can better understand divergent points of view.
…So what’s your approach to leadership. Why does it work? Why doesn’t it? And what’s wrong with mine?
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.