Would you work for you?

Recently I have been reflecting on some of the fantastic work experiences I have had over the past 20 something years. Being in my late 30’s I have realized that I get to look at things from an interesting perspective. I am not fresh out of college and getting my first “real job” guy, nor do I have 4 decades of experiences and history that my friends who have begun to talk about retirement have. I land somewhere in the middle. 

It is interesting that I have much of the tech savviness that my younger peers have mixed with the work ethic and loyalty that those my senior posses, but this is neither a resume nor an interview; instead I wanted to take a moment to discuss leadership and leading others. 

Something I have observed over the years is the strange phenomena that occurs when someone gets promoted into a leadership role (usually) for the first time. Suddenly a completely different individual enters the office. He/she looks the same, walks the same and sounds the same, but nothing else seems to resemble the person who sat at the desk next to you the past 3 years. 

I recall my first experience as a manager. I was 20 years old, and I suddenly had a title and some power. Not having had a mentor to guide me, I conjured up what I thought it meant to be a manager. I would be strong and authoritative. I would be driven and exceed all expectations. Before I even started my first day I was already plotting how I was going to get the next promotion, the next raise, the next title. 

Looking back I am glad I was able to figure out the one thing I remind myself every day, “It isn’t about me.” 

Sure, being trusted to manage a team, a department, or a project means there are extra responsibilities that you, the individual, are responsible for. Ultimately, both success and failure will be on your shoulders. You are not, however, going to achieve any success in your role without the people who now call you “boss.” 

 

Perhaps the most crucial part of being a boss is the people who report to you. You are there to ensure their work is getting done, yes, but more most importantly you are also there to ensure they are developing in their individual roles and careers. Some of the questions I heard early on from those I was fortunate enough to be mentored by are: 

  • - While you are working on your next promotion, who are you grooming to take your spot? 
  •  How are you developing the least skilled individual to no longer be the least competent? 
  •  Why are you acting as though he/she is intentionally making mistakes? 
  •  Are you taking the time to ensure everyone has been trained correctly?

And I think one of the most important questions I have ever been asked, “would you want to work for you?”

Whether it is your first job in a management role or your 10th, it is sometimes a good idea to ask yourself, “would I like to work for me? 

  •     Would I feel like I was being given the tools and resources to succeed? 
  •     Would I be comfortable asking me for help?
  •     Would I feel supported? 
  • There are plenty more, but I think you get the idea. 

Throughout your career, you will sometimes answer these with a resounding YES! You will also have times throughout your career when you will say ‘no’ to at least one of those questions. In those times it is essential to consider why and to do the work you need to on yourself to get back on track. 

    I realize this post may sound as if I think managers are just trying to win a popularity contest. I am in no way attempting to minimize the job you have as a manager or leader, however, if the people who work for you don’t want to work for you then the goals you are striving for will be more costly, take longer and be more difficult to achieve. 

I hope you are often the kind of boss you (and I) would like to work for.