A True Leadership story
When first given the opportunity to manage a team, it is proud moment for everyone.
At the same time, there is also a concern on how to manage or handle the team
What if they ask me uncomfortable questions ?
What if they don’t listen to me ?
How will I get things done from team who will be more than my age ?
These questions can give sleepless nights even to seasoned leaders because every team member is unique in terms of managing them.
Sharing A True Leadership story from my own experience.
I had this proud moment at the age of 22 years and was assigned responsibility to lead a team early in my career
I was quite enthusiastic to handle a line manager job.
My team was considered one of the challenging teams to lead but I did not know what it means
But they were really challenging which I was soon going to discover.
Team was expert in their jobs and each person job experience was more than my age.
My leadership journey started and daily routine followed.
I planned work and issued instructions beginning of the day and reviewed progress end of the day.
Things looked smooth initially.
But after some time, I sensed something is not right.
Work was being done but somehow I was uncomfortable.
Team was not listening to me and least bothered with the information and instructions that I was sharing with them.
They were doing their work like I never existed for them.
I got annoyed and faced them straight off that why are you not listening to me.
Team said that we know everything and you don’t know anything
then why should we obey you and plainly refused to accept me as their leader
Moreover, team was not happy with the arrangement of reporting to me as earlier they were reporting to my boss and new appointment added one more management layer in between.
I went to my boss and narrated him the situation and seek his support to use his power to make team understand who the boss is.
To my surprise, he said what your team is saying is absolutely correct.
You don’t know anything then why should they listen to you.
But he also made a very important statement that it means “you are not able to manage people”.
Discussion was quite opposite to my expectation and I was shocked to hear this.
I thought that it will not be possible to work in this environment and time has come to quit the job.
I prepared my resume and started applying in other companies.
As days passed, I further reflected on the situation and yes quitting was an option and an easy one.
Then why not to try another option although a difficult one.
I made up my mind that even if need to quit will do so but not without trying and giving all I have.
After all. I had the best interest of team and organization on my mind.
I realized that this team’s strength was their knowledge and expertise and to command their respect I need to reach somewhat near to them in a short time.
I started to behave with them less like a boss and more like a supporter and started learning the work and worked with own hands.
I started spending endless hours in the operations and studying books in library after office hours.
I started to get good knowledge of the basics and in depth understanding by reflecting on daily learnings.
New problems came in operations which my team was not able to resolve and I solved them with new ways of thinking.
Customers started looking for me when they had a problem. I proactively identified the key challenges and pain points team was facing and addressed them.
Team started respecting me and I went out of the way to help them and looked for opportunities to expand their capabilities.
I was always fair to them and recognized them for the good performance they showcased.
Slowly team realized that I am playing out theirs and organization’s best interests and they started supporting me fully.
A bond was built which would last forever.
Key Learning was that leadership is not about dictating from the position and taking it for granted but proving with the daily actions the position one occupies is the one deserved.
Biggest learnings, confidence and achievements in life are gained when we face the challenge and overcome them.
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A True Leadership story