Imagine this: after months or years of hard work, you’ve been recognized by your boss and you’re being promoted to take the leading role on your team. You made it! That big effort is finally paying off! Now you can sit back and relax. All you will have to do is give orders, see the work flowing and see the results coming, right? Wrong! Let me tell you, my dear reader, that the hardest part is coming your way. I mean, yes, it’s cool you got the promotion and it’s great for your career. You probably deserve it, but it does have some down sides that come within the package that people don’t usually tell you. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you!
SECRET #1: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PROBLEMS
You will notice that suddenly you are surrounded by problems of all kinds: problems between your team members, problems with external stakeholders, problems in the project, problems with the company, even problems with you! You might wonder: “Did I just become a problem magnet?” Unless you are really doing it very badly, that’s not the case. The thing is, the problems were not visible to you before because you were not part of the escalation path, but now you are responsible and, in some cases, accountable to get them fixed. You need to learn about emotional intelligence, conflict resolution strategies and develop your mediation abilities, so you can embrace problems in the best possible way. You should be also prepared to have some difficult conversations.
SECRET #2: YOU ARE NOT PART OF "THE GANG" ANYMORE
You’re also going to feel that people in your team are not talking to you in the same way they used to. You will realize that you are not part of some conversations and events you previously were. You might even feel that you were pushed out of the “friendship circle” at work. That is absolutely fine. You must understand that you are the boss now and you represent some kind of authority to the people in the team, so people are not going to tell you everything anymore. It’s ok feeling bad about it, but it’s your new reality. You shouldn’t try to force things to be the old way, you must adapt to the new way. You must keep communication channels open for your team, for anything they need. If something comes your way, it might mean they already tried with someone else. You must be there for them.
SECRET #3: YOU OWN THE VICTORIES, BUT EVEN MORE, THE FAILURES
By this point, there’s no need to tell you that, as the leader of your team, you will be the visible head of it for the good things and for the bad things. What’s the bad news here? Well, victories should be shared across the team. Appreciations and recognitions must be granted to all the team members. They committed to it, they pushed hard, and they did it. Well done, team! But in failures, you have to take the blame. You must be humble; you are the lead and you failed. You weren’t good enough to deliver the expected result. You missed the target this time. You must protect the team. Learn the lesson and move on, my friend! Do you get my point here? It isn’t fair, huh?
This is my take on these matters. You might think I’m wrong, which would be very valid. I’m just talking from my own experience. As the saying goes: “plan for the best, prepare for the worst.”
I hope this post was helpful. If you have any other suggestions for new leaders please add them in the comments!