As a solo contributor, Joe was moving up the corporate ladder, fast. However, the transition from "I" to "We" wasn't easy.
Joe, Rising Manager, 32
Since I graduated college, I went full-force into my career. I worked all the long hours and tried to absorb every bit of knowledge I could to move up the corporate ladder. Fortunately, the hard work paid off and I did. Only moving up meant taking on management responsibilities, not just contributing with the latest and greatest ideas.
At first, I saw it as an awesome opportunity to teach and grow those under and around me. I was excited to have my own team and to put plans in place to really make a difference in the company. Unfortunately, that was somewhat short-lived when I realized managing people was harder than I thought. I was used to being a solo contributor and speaking in sentences with “I” rather than “we." Having support seemed great in theory, but in reality I didn’t know how to delegate or motivate. I also didn’t know how to take responsibility when one of my team members didn’t perform.
A few complaints and long talks with my boss later, I realized that standing in the spotlight all the time wasn’t making my team better, and it certainly wasn’t going to get us the business results we needed. I didn’t purposefully want to overshadow my team, I just didn’t quite know how to lead.
Fortunately, my boss had several great tips and books for me to read, but also some great advice. “Leadership isn’t about always being right. It’s not about always knowing the answers. And it’s not about always giving the best advice. It’s about connecting with people, listening to their stories, and figuring out how to help them along the way. If you do that, you’ll be more successful than numbers could ever show, because you’ve truly built relationships that will follow you wherever you go.”
That advice changed my life. As simple as it sounds, I learned that relationships were more important than any result that I could ever bring in on my own. I didn’t know all of the answers, but I learned that was okay. Being vulnerable and asking for help from my team not only built trust, but it produced better results.
Going from “I” to “we” is tough, but it’s a must to be truly successful.