I have always wondered why some people are more successful than other (I mean, most other) people. It is probably a combination of personal charm, smartness, a lot of hard-work, and some luck. But when it comes to leadership the qualities are probably the same, and it’s really less about what you do but more about who you are (as a person): passionate, visionary, engaging, motivating. Think about any leader around you. When a great leader speaks, you listen with all ears, you can’t wait to learn more, you are inspired to think, you can identify with his/her stories, and you want to follow, and you want to take actions.
Our Vice Chairman spoke at a town hall earlier this week on where we stand with our business today and what we will need to do in Q4 in order to meet our targets for 2011. He is a native British with a great deal of humor and personal charisma. When he was highlighting our significant sales performance back in April (best month of the year) he mentioned he “posted the chart on his bathroom door” and “his wife has the same chart tattooed on her back”. It was a joke obviously. Everyone laughed. But the important thing is, guaranteed, there is no way you will forget about this bar chart from April and it will haunt you and drive you for better performance for the rest of the year.
Personally I have always loved leaders who have this “sense of urgency”, which gets reflected in the way they think and the way they talk. I recently watched an interview with Meg Whitman, one of the Fortune top 50 most powerful women in business, the new CEO for HP, former CEO for eBay, and the candidate for Governor of California in 2009-2010, where she commented that politics is tougher than business because politics is very personal (think about personal attacks/no privacy etc). However she goes on to explain that when answering questions in politics, you get away with the so-called “political spin”, which is both expected and accepted by the public; however if you do the same with your employees in a business environment, you will be walked out of the door!
BEING AN ASSOCIATE is an awkward stage in your professional life; and I think you would agree with me on this. It’s like being a sophomore in college: All of a sudden you don’t receive as much attention as those excited-about-everything Freshmen anymore; at the same time you are still not “experienced” or “qualified” enough to apply to those internships/programs specifically designed for Junior and Seniors.
A couple of examples in line with this:
- In Objective Settings you are expected to use language like “take a leadership role in this project”, but you should be very cautious with language like “managing the project or the team” – Right, if you (being an Associate) are managing the team, why do they need a Director?
- The VP who used to be your supervisor now reports to the same boss as you do. But while the VP is participating in management training programs, you are left behind doing the VP’s job.
- You are responsible for the quality of the work done by your Analyst but he/she doesn’t report to you, so most of the times, he/she doesn’t give a sh** of what you say or intend to have him/her do.
- Let me STRESS that all the above don’t happen often at all in my own case, but nevertheless I guarantee you this is quite universal otherwise.
I consider myself as lucky to be on this assignment overseas. Read more…
This article applies to many scenarios outside of work as well, just as a FYI. Ok, so I happen to love all my managers across teams, but I realized only recently that this is a very rare case.
Most people don’t really like their manager. And by boss/managers I mean those who are higher (even slightly higher) up than you along the corporate hierarchy. After all, he/she is the person who gives you shitty work, or who decides whether your next project will be actually high-profile, or who complains when you are late in the morning or you leave before your analyst at night, and probably the scariest part of all, who runs your performance evaluation and determines your bonus.
You are lucky if you have a manager half as friendly, reasonable and approachable as mine (seriously), but chances are you don’t have one like that. So you are scared of your manager, one way or another. Managers, on the other hand, may have given up on being likable either. I am not saying this is the right thing to do but they simply don’t have to care that much. I mean, they don’t NEED you to like them; they are your boss regardless.
Of course you can simply quit and join another team/firm, but there is no guarantee this will not happen again. So what I really want to talk about today is how to deal with a manager (or anyone) who is (at least in your mind) a total disaster and almost impossible, and who (in your mind) wants to secretly jeopardize your career and ruin your life!
You don’t know their intentions and you naturally assume the worst