office thinking, “Wow, what was that?” while having a good old laugh because I’m sure I came across as a complete narcissist. I’m sure I seemed cheeky and smug, but I didn’t mean to. I just thought that was what I needed to be; I hired nearly all the staff in the company, and everybody knew me already. There was never any humility, no presence of any gratitude for being there. I just thought I knew that I was good, so why were we even bothering to do an interview? Of course, I didn’t say that out loud, but I didn’t need to for them to read my attitude loud and clear. This interview was at a contact centre I was already working with, I recruited for them for four months. I was working closely with the manager, who gave me the full autonomy to hire about 200 staff. The manager and I developed a good relationship during that time. Once the recruitment was complete, she wanted me to work with her as a team manager. Part of their hiring process was for me to meet with her and three of my would-be peers—so, three other team managers. The main manager liked me, but that came as no surprise to me. I wanted the job because I felt like it would give me prestige. It was more money than I was earning at that time, and I wanted to leverage it to further my leadership career. I thought I had the position signed and sealed. As it turned out, the feedback from my interview with the three team managers was not positive. They felt I wasn’t the right “fit” for the role. I perceived that they didn’t like me. I was quite disappointed to hear this, so it was a great surprise when the main manager overrode their feedback and hired me. When I first started, I felt bitter towards the three team managers because I had chosen to take their feedback personally. I wanted to be better than them. In my mind, I thought they were all shitty leaders because they didn’t want to hire me. Instead of 4 the ego continuum
trying to figure out why they didn’t want to hire me, or what I could have done to improve, I chose to be offended. The job consisted of about fifteen contact centre agents reporting to me directly. I would hold bi-weekly one-on-ones with them. While they were talking, rather than paying attention to them as I should’ve been, I’d be on my phone or checking my emails. I was easily distracted and would interrupt them, or I would only be half-listening. I got away with a lot because, even though I was demonstrating shitty behaviours, I was still personable and approachable. People still seemed to like me, even though I wasn’t doing that great of a job in my one-onones, as I discovered later upon reflection. At the time, though, I thought I was a superstar genius. But, turns out being well liked didn’t make me a good team leader; it just made me well liked. These one-on-ones were of utmost importance, and I was blowing it. Most managers should meet with their team individually, and host a mini-review with them. Some companies suggest once or twice a month, some bi-weekly. In these sessions, you go through the employee’s key performance indicators (KPIs), or their stats. In a call centre, you would look at things like average handle time, talk time, or feedback from customers. You might listen to recorded calls together, and through certain criteria, you’d grade the calls to see how they did. These one-on-one sessions weren’t only to assess your employee’s statistics and to provide feedback on how to improve (and save your company money in the meantime). They were also a chance for the manager to spend time with their employee. As we get into the insights of this book, if you want to increase your active leadership, ask yourself, how often is often enough to engage one-on-one with your staff? And, it’s much more than just the frequency. A fundamental of active leadership is that you should be meeting, at a minimum, twice a month with your Introduction 5
I Lead When I Follow is the modern manager’s best friend. Taking inspiration from leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Marcus Aurelius and Eleanor Roosevelt, the philosophies by which they lived have been applied distilled and applied to the modern workplace.
This eBook will allow you to build on the knowledge of the past to manage your team more effectively, and lead your company to success!