Leading with the heart

One of the most important learning experiences I have had over the past four years has been my role as a manager of a team of humans. I am not sure what is harder, advancing into this position from a lower level one or coming into it form outside the organisation – I am guessing the challenges are not the same – great nevertheless.

Over the years, my interactions with my team have been varied and some were more successful than others. Today, I am happy to see that we work so well together we are able to support each other, understand and protect each other and, perhaps most importantly, have fun together.

Looking back at what got us here, it all came down to three small (but essential) tips for managing my team in a way that provided the sync we experience today:

  1. Each member of your team is a person – not a tool, not an instrument, not a means to an end. See each human in your team as one with their needs, ideas, flaws and strengths. SEE them.
  2. As a leader, don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. Don’t be afraid to accept that someone else on the team may be able to do it better. Your leadership ability does not mean establishing yourself as superior to others. Leadership means service, not privilege.
  3. Listen to your team. Really, actively listen. Take notes if you have to. Shut up when your solutions and suggestions come running. Err on the side of allowing your team members to fail in order for them to discover what is better to do. With each individual growing, your team will be better developed and more fulfilled humans create unbelievable teams.

I find it hard to break through centuries old ideas of what “the boss”means and how a team should run. Especially as a woman. It makes me smile to see that my team is one of the best working I have known and people still roll their eyes at the way I choose to manage it.

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