2016: The year of new career challenges

Posted by kdow on Jan 3, 2016 12:04:26 AM

2016 was brought in with much ado for me. A few days earlier my boss sent me a quick screengrab from Workday to say that my promotion has been approved.

This means I move from local team leadership in a player-manager type of scenario to managing everyone in this particular role outside of NA (roughly translating to EMEA & APAC). Now before you get ahead of yourself and assume I’m managing hundreds: it’s barely double digits of people. But those digits are important to me.

In a conversation with a friend, who’s been a manager for years, about this move they asked what my first impression of the new role was. Keep in mind this wasn’t a surprise to anyone; it was on the cards for the last few months. But my first impression was a severe feeling of imposter syndrome. I’ve had this throughout my career. I’ve always felt like a bit of a fraud when it comes to career success. I don’t know why but I feel like someone else should be in my position.

That said, that feeling is a great motivator to go learn new traits, skills and keep ahead of the curve to help propel me further. And so a cycle of new role->imposter syndrome->success goes round and round. I’m beyond the point of arguing with myself over the why and the how I got here.

Now, don’t take that ‘imposter syndrome’ tag as being something correlating with fear, anxiety and distress. Sure, there’s a little of all of those cooking in my head. But it’s not crippling me. Like I said, imposter syndrome is helping propel myself in many ways, both professional & personal.

Something I’ll talk about in a future post will be the fact that I’m very much an archetypcal introvert. I get my energy from being alone, and spend a lot of time gathering my thoughts in my own head. As I’ll explain in this future post, that doesn’t mean I’m shy, afraid of crowds or anything of the sort. It just describes where I best gather my energy!

Being introverted and feeling imposter syndrome are a great mix, in my mind. They give me time to be happy, but not satisfied. But also give me the inherent skills required to sit down and think about the future, the challenges ahead and what to do.

Another thing this conversation with a friend brought up are some key traits that I need to have in the forefront of my mind as I take on this challenge. Traits beyond ninja travelling skills, of course. I’m definitely not a manager. I definitely reckon I’m a colleague who happens to lead a team. That shapes a lot of my thought process.

So I reckon some key things I need to consider are:

  1. Be a leader, not a manager. No one has time for that amount of bullshit. And I don’t want to work in a company with managers.
  2. Bring a sense of direction, or purpose, to the team.
  3. Hold a deep sense of conviction with the goals, plans, challenges & timelines I bring to the team.
  4. Build long-lasting relationships. Like I said before, I’m not a manager; I’m a colleague.
  5. Build the team around those relationships. Especially when hiring new people.
  6. Communicate. A lot. I think I over-communicate, especially with email. But I think I do it with enough cadence that people get a chance to have a nice read with their morning coffee. And that gets the formal shit out of the way for when we actually meet… over coffee, predictably.
  7. Trust my colleagues to do the right thing. We hired smart people. Let them be smart. Empower them as much as possible. That’s actually my job.
  8. Be there. Sometimes that means virtually. My new role involves travelling a lot. And this is in a year where I’m getting married abroad. I’m already intimately acquainted with airport lounges, but now it’ll be more intense. But I need to ensure that I’m there for the team, and they feel I’m nearly always available for them.
  9. Do things. All of my worst managers or leaders from the past were people who sat in an office, never up-skilling or doing things. They could never lead by example. I need to ensure that I don’t become that person. Which should be easy as I’m taking on a leadership role for a series of people doing a job I’ve done for the last four years!

And so 2016 is frought with new challenges. But nothing I can’t handle, hopefully. Thankfully I’m surrounded by a global team of rockstars!