The Business of You

Great managers know that they can’t be effective leaders if they aren’t aware of their own state at any given moment. As the saying goes, “before you help others, you need to help yourself.”

  1. Cultivate individual habits
  2. Self-Awareness
  3. Self-care
  4. Own your mistakes
  5. On time and present

Cultivate individual habits
Great companies are made up of great individual performers who work well together as a team. As a manager, you are both the architect of the culture and the central hub in the wheel of information flow that enables your team to function effectively. Your example inspires your team, and your efficiency determines the efficiency of the team. Therefore, the first thing to optimize is yourself. Read the Getting Shit Done guide, and become a pro.

Access the mental, psychological, and emotional state for you and your team members. Self-awareness is one of the hardest skills to develop as a leader. It requires introspection and the ability to understand who we are and who others are. The training industry reported that by becoming more self-aware as a leader, and recognizing your strengths, weaknesses and hidden biases, leaders gain the trust of their team members — and increase their own credibility. As a manager, you can become more self-aware by:

1. Prioritizing your mental well-being
Know your signs, triggers and what’s contributing to your stress. You can do this by monitoring your thoughts and responses in different situations. Ask yourself (1) How do I feel at this moment? (2) When do I feel burned-out? (3) What behaviors are bothersome for me? (4) What personality styles are draining for me? (5) What are ways I can engage with them and protect my mental health? (6) Is there anyone I can loop in for support?. Try to avoid engaging with individuals who may be an energy suck for you; there will be times when you have to communicate with them so keep the conversation short and limit the engagement as much as possible. Make sure you utilize your vacation time to take mental health days. If you can’t take time off, take frequent breaks and aim to end meetings five minutes early so you have a moment to step away and reset. Lastly, find ways to wind down at the end of the day. Seek help using an Employee Assistance Program if you are struggling to balance your mental health and work.

2. Increase your emotional intelligence
Try to put yourself in your reports’ shoes and consider how your words/tone/comments may be perceived.

3. Embrace your personality
Be yourself and be quirky (in a positive/inclusive way).

4. Embrace your “style”
We all share the same “values” but make it “yours” within the framework of the company values.

5. Be ok letting some fires burn
You can’t solve every single problem.

On top of individual habits, self care is extremely important. As a manager, your job is to think clearly, creatively, and compassionately. You have a major responsibility to be a strong and empathetic leader. You need to show up 100% for your team. This is not possible if you don’t take care of yourself. Invest in your personal life, health, and wellness to give your best self at work.

You have to lead by example with self care. Burning yourself out will not only lead to your management suffering, it will lead to your teammates following your lead and burning themselves out too.

Own your mistakes
You gain respect from others when you own your mistakes. When you avoid admitting what you did wrong, you lose trust with your team and peers. A survey conducted by Dale Carnegie Training found that employees reported “admitting when they are wrong” was the largest gap in leadership behaviors. The Association for Talent Development reported leaders’ willingness to “admit when they are wrong” was the number-one tested behavior in terms of its positive impact on employees’ job satisfaction and intent to stay. We are all human and will have slip ups and we get it wrong but always wanting to be viewed as right will do more harm than good in the long run.

On time and present
It is critical to be on time for every appointment that you have made, or to let the others in the meeting know that you will be late as soon as you realize that you will be. This can be done with a simple Slack message “I’m running X minutes behind.” That is ok. Showing up late without a heads up is not.

Why is this important? Because there is someone else on the other side of your agreement to start the meeting at a certain time. They have stopped what they are working on to attend the meeting on time. If you do not show up on time, they cannot start the meeting, but they also cannot leave as they don’t know if you’ll show up the next minute or not.

Being present means that you are composed, prepared, not distracted by thoughts of things outside the meeting. It takes a few minutes to “get present”. Therefore, it’s recommended that you aim to end meetings five minutes early to give you buffer room between meetings. You can use the few extra minutes to “get present” – prepare for the meeting, research the topic and the attendees, etc. It’s important to note that during 1:1s you are expected to be present and engaged. Give your team member your undivided attention and do not multitask.

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