The Journey of an Impatient Leader (and how I turned it around)
When I was a single contributor I was on fire! Kicking ass and taking names. I streamlined tasks, prioritized projects and managed time like a well oiled machine. I still made my fair share of mistakes but I quickly learned and improved.
What I didn't realize, when I became a manager, is that no one else thought like I thought, prioritized like I prioritized or even knew the first thing about managing time.
In my newfound management position I was frustrated, angry and impatient.
I felt my team should know how to work but what I came to realize was they didn't understand how I wanted them to work.
One day, after a particularly trying time with my team, I found myself at a dangerous breaking point. I was very close to saying hurtful things to my employees and I knew in my heart this would do more harm than good.
I decided to lock myself in my office and turn inward. I had to stop complaining about who these people weren't and talk about who I needed them to be. I had to clarify what I required.
I opened up a blank word document and began writing, "An employee would never." I stopped myself. This document was supposed to make me feel better, not dwell on poor habits and lackluster performance. With this stroke of insight I decided to only write positive statements.
Below is a sampling from my list:
Condenses a lot of information into a straightforward response
Understands how mistakes cause downstream problems
Let’s me sleep at night because I’m not worried about tasks left undone
I think of them as my replacement
Passionate and positive
Forces me to grow and think
It wasn't about them
After reviewing my list of wants I came to the realization that these items weren't something a person comes in with, but instead, what is taught and grown by the leader. So the real question became, who was I willing to become to make this dream team jump off the page and come to life?
The root of my leadership change was patience.
If I wanted to inspire a team I had to teach them how I thought and in order to teach anything I had to be patient.
I decided to weed my garden and start fresh. Three team members departed my group which allowed me the opportunity to hire fresh blood and change the dynamic completely.
I personally trained everyone on this team, introduced them to each department, listened, guided and listened some more.
Within 6 months of writing my list and looking at myself in the mirror my team grew into one of the most successful departments in the company.
When I decided what I wanted and realized my patience was getting in the way, everything changed.
To the team that stepped in and became a legendary department: I hold a special place in my heart for the work we accomplished and the amazing people you are personally and professionally.
You will always be my dream team.