team, and with your folks individually. Meeting with your staff once a month, to me, is not enough. There is more about active leadership to follow. What did you take away from my first management role example? For me, my shittiness was that I made it all about me and I wasn’t engaged in the one-on-ones. I was easily distracted, which others perceived as insincerity, and it eroded trust. I lacked the follow-through and consistency. I was making the leadership facets about me. I was overlooking my staff when I should have been supporting them. My passion and drive were wanting to be right. I wanted to prove the other team managers wrong, that I was better than them. This was my ego in full competition mode. I was demonstrating a holier-than-thou attitude, which created this perception in the first place. My job was all about ticking a box because I had to do the one-on-ones. My actions and behaviours made out like I didn’t care, and I am sure some of my staff felt it. Some of my team used to make comments, asking me why I was always on my phone. I would either ignore the question or make up some lame excuse to validate my behaviour. When you’re in a one-on-one, you should give your employee your full, undivided attention. Instead, I would read emails while they were talking, only to look up and realise they’d finished what they had to say. I’d have to ask, “I’m sorry what did you say?” That doesn’t make your employees feel valued. I wasn’t utilising what a one-on-one was supposed to be used for; it was just something I had to get over with before I could clock off. When I received feedback from other staff, most of them seemed to like me a lot. This was important to me at the time. There were even people on other teams who would say, “Oh, I wish I was on your team.” But then I’d go to our monthly management team meetings and the other team managers would 6 the ego continuum
e having tough conversations. I’d hear my peers say, “I had to put her on a development plan. I’ve noticed that her quality hasn’t progressed over the last three one-on-ones. Her average handle time is increasing, and her attendance is decreasing. We’ve talked about it several times together, and I’ve tried to set things up to help her succeed. She isn’t taking the level of accountability and responsibility we’ve talked about over the last three sessions. Therefore, I’ve put her on a development plan for the next 90 days to help her improve. Here are all the key elements of the development plan for her...” My peers were saying all this, while I was there thinking, wow! I don’t do any of that. I never look at my one-on-one sessions from the last time I met with a person, and I never think about their progression. My self-awareness hit me like a tonne of bricks; I felt awful. There was so much more I could have (and should have) been doing! I wanted that team manager job for the wrong reasons. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to feel prestigious because I was in a leadership role. I thought being a leader made me better than other people. I thought that there was a power involved that I wanted and figured I would like. I realised within a few months of being in that role that my job was actually to be supportive, to be honest, and to show integrity. I learned a lot in that job; it was where I first began to understand that competing against others wasn’t right, that it felt wrong. I didn’t fully realise until much later that I should only ever be competing with myself. Did I have a better day today than I did yesterday? For some reason, as a society, we decided to give arbitrary things importance. She’s prettier than me; she’s thinner than me. He makes more money than me. He has a bigger house than me. We collectively decided that we should care about those things. In reality, what actually matters Introduction 7
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.
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