Blog: Authentic Leadership
When I look back at twenty years of graft at KnowledgePoint I’m struck by just how far I’ve come personally. At the beginning, I was learning by simply making lots of mistakes. I remember trying to push too much, make too many decisions and not letting other people make decisions. Now I’m sharing those lessons with the managers that I’m bringing up today.
When marketing sat me down to talk through my experiences and help me get it on paper, the one thing that stuck out was how I’m much more myself today than I was when I first started managing people. I’m a lot more relaxed now having realised that not being myself changed how I communicated. That’s my clear message for anyone that reads this;
Be authentic and above all,
play things straight down the line.
It’s a hard balance to strike for a new manager. Sometimes having a laugh and a joke and being jovial can get them into situations where they shouldn’t be. As a leader, you need to play things straight down the line. You’ve got to be mindful of how you portray yourself but stay as true to who you are as you can. There is wiggle room there, it’s not that you need to be strict but set your boundaries so that you have enough room to express yourself.
As my team grew, it’s more than sixty people now, I had to use a different style. Smaller teams interact directly with you. When you bring in more layers you change the way you manage. One of the things you learn is not to get too involved at a level which treads on people’s toes or undermines your managers.
That’s the difference, you manage through not to. To do that well you need to have a clear message you can use that to speak to people. If that message is authentic and you’re more confident it will land well. If you’re not sure, people pick up on that and it’s harder to get them to buy in to certain things.
You won’t always have all the answers, you might want to, but you won’t. Allow the people that know the situation best to make those decisions. When times are stressful because there’s a lot of work on you need to be able to trust them to make the difference. You can’t trust them without letting them lead and seeing how it goes. Allow them to be authentic.
Like I said; play things straight down the line.
I am a strong believer that when you’re dealing with people it’s hard to learn from a book. But if you’re authentic about your intentions, what you’re trying to achieve, and who you are, it’s a lot easier to get things done.