So you’ve just gotten that management role for which you’ve been gunning for months or years now. Congratulations! You’re a few weeks in, and you’re realizing that you are in over your head, and that maybe this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’re looking for advice, and I’ve got some for you!
Have a story you want to tell
Some people call this a vision. I like the concept of ‘telling a story’. Think about what you want your story to be six months, a year, and 3 years down the road. Use some of your thinking time to put yourself into the future and look back on the time period you’re going for. Think about what the journey looked like, and write it down.
Here are some questions to ask when coming up with your story:
- What does your team look like?
- What have you accomplished together? What ‘next-level’ things did you achieve?
- How have you grown?
- What direct impact have you had?
- How are things better than when you found them?
You don’t have to know everything
In David Marquet’s book Turn the Ship Around he mentions how he had studied for over a year to take command of a certain type of submarine. He studied how everything worked, and was an absolute expert on every facet of that type of submarine. At the very last minute he was reassigned to one of the most underperforming submarines in the US Navy. To add insult to injury, it was a class of submarine that he was not familiar with. He learned some valuable lessons about how you don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t have to know everything to be an effective leader. In fact, the opposite was true. He was more effective because he empowered his crew to make decisions based on the information they had (which is often much more than the leader has.) This allowed him to be freed up to focus on more strategic issues affecting him and his crew. Ultimately, his crew and submarine went on to become one of the highest rated crews in US Navy history.
Here’s a great talk where he shares some of these ideas: