Leadership 101: Lesson 1 

Know the Basics

Management is not for the weak of heart.  Have you noticed that we promote people into management or leadership roles because they did their jobs fantastically, which often have little to do with the skills required to be an effective manager?  People work very hard to get the coveted manager or leader position, only to realize they are starting at ground zero and need help.  I’ve chosen to title these lessons as Leadership such that it is inclusive of all titles – team leader, manager, director, CEO.

Sometimes people innately have these skills and the transition is smooth and uneventful.  Oftentimes, the transition can look and feel less than desirable.  Assumptions are made because one is proficient in their current role that the skills required to succeed in a manager or leader role will magically appear.  If you find that you are in this situation or that your organization relies on the firehose method of learning new skills, we’ve got you covered.

There are so many people that know the above to be true, yet we still rely on it as a “strategy”.   I often refer to it as the hope and pray strategy that things will work out.  While hope may be a coping mechanism, it most certainly is not a strategy that you will want to rely on in the long term.  Whether you are a person who wants to add some tools to the toolbox or an organization that is trying to figure out how to build strong managers and leaders, the nuggets provided in Leadership 101 can help you navigate this realm of responsibility.  Think of this as virtual management or leadership training broken down into small bites that you can digest and accomplish every couple of weeks.  This segment will focus on knowledge and idea-sharing for you to consider and hopefully will provide thought-provoking questions for you to ponder as you work towards developing yourself or others.

A basic foundation of knowledge is important.  Imagine building a house and trying to build the second floor without having poured the foundation.  Is that even possible?

Lesson #1: Know the basics of your company.  Contrary to popular belief that the Employee Handbook is just a “thing” you have to sign off on (but not actually read) for those HR people, it is an incredibly important tool for you to understand to be a good leader.  It gives you the first glance at the way the company rolls.  It is a framework for behavioral expectations for you and your colleagues.  It may even reference some of your responsibilities in certain sticky situations, and don’t you want to know what you may be accountable for?  Trust me, you’ll want to know when you need to pick up the bat phone to call HR to help you navigate something you’ve not experienced before.

After you’ve read your handbook, reach out to your HR team if you need any clarification or don’t understand something.  If you read about a topic in the handbook that describes something you aren’t familiar with or haven’t ever experienced, question it.  Sometimes handbooks become outdated and we find what is written may not be congruent with what is being practiced.  Asking questions or pointing that out to your HR team will help your company re-evaluate that particular topic or policy, and it’s a sure sign that you’re paying attention and learning new skills.

Written by: Chris Ament, HR Director Consultant, ConnectedHR

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