All your hard work has finally paid off, and you’ve reached your goal of becoming a manager. Congratulations! Transitioning from being an individual contributor to a manager is exciting. But balancing your added responsibility and building leadership skills can be a bit daunting.
Don’t worry, you’re in the right place! We compiled some advice from leaders at Pitney Bowes from their “Meet Our Leaders” series to support you in your managerial endeavors. Keep reading to hear some of their best tips on how to make your transition into leadership smoother.
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to overcommunicate.
We all know communication is key when it comes to just about any relationship, and communication between a manager and their team is no exception. According to Pitney’s Chief Communications Officer Bill Hughes, when dealing with your team, “you cannot communicate enough as a new manager.” He shares that when you set clear guidelines about how you work and how you expect people to work, you set your team up for success. “You have to make the effort to connect with your teams. Their success is your success.”
Tip 2: Prioritize authenticity.
Another key trait in good leaders is authenticity. Leaders should be willing to show up as their full selves, which might mean exposing their vulnerabilities and asking for support in addressing them. Being authentic and vulnerable takes courage, but it’s essential for building empathy and trust.
“You will win with authenticity every time,” says Debbie Pfeiffer, President of Pitney Bowes Presort Services. “People know when you're trying to pretend to be someone else and it's just not core to who you are. Also, be kind, be good, be respectful to everyone, regardless of their role. All of those things come back to you.”
Tip 3: Stay curious and trust your team.
We can all agree that continual learning is a good thing, especially when you’re new to a role. “Sometimes there’s a perception that management has to have an answer for every problem—and that couldn't be further from the truth,” says Christopher Johnson, SVP and President Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services. Good leaders don’t need to have all the answers, they just need to know how to get them.
Similarly, Jason Dies, Executive Vice President and President of Sending Technology Solutions, reminds us, “You don't have to be an expert on everything. As you advance in your career, your scope and breadth increase. That’s why you have a team.” And you should learn to trust your team to build mutual support.
If you’re still not fully confident in your abilities, that’s alright too. Debbie wants new leaders to know, “It’s okay if you feel a bit nervous about not knowing. Just always stay curious and in learning mode.” She also encourages them to be resourceful. “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Use the resources around you; don’t think you always need to start from scratch. Identify people who you know are good at what they do and ask them for advice.”
Tip 4: Hone your listening skills.
We can learn from those around us, and by strengthening your active listening skills, you can gain knowledge and perspectives that increase your leadership capacity. “It doesn't matter if they aren’t in a position of prestige or power,” remarks Christopher. “If you take the time and you talk to people genuinely, they can teach you things that can make a difference in your life or can allow you to make a difference in somebody else's life. And don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he advises. “Without questions you cannot learn.”
Equally, active listening opens up the door for new perspectives. “Idea generation comes from listening,” says Chief Financial Officer Ana Chadwick. She also says that the first thing you should do as a new leader is create an environment where people on your team want to share. “It's empowering to the team to see that there's something that can be done about improving ourselves, improving our work environment, [and] improving what we're doing.” Engage with your team, be open to feedback, and focus on improving.
Tip 5: Don’t forget to show your appreciation.
“And the last concept, which is often forgotten: Always be thankful, and show gratitude to people for what they are doing,” says Christopher. He also asks leaders to reflect on how others’ gratitude affects them. “If you stop and think about it, in your day-to-day life, how many people say ‘thank you,’ and how many people actually ask how they can help you?”
Lead by example and show appreciation for your teammates. After all, “their success is your success.”