Life was a lot simpler when you were an individual contributor. Then, all you had to do to get a better evaluation was to work a little harder or a little smarter or both. You had complete control of your effort and personal development. But now, you’re responsible for the performance of a group.
Your group might be small like a first-level team. It might be large like an entire company or division. No matter how big the team is you are responsible for their performance. That means that your evaluation is in their hands. And that’s just the beginning. Instead of mastering one thing, you must master several things, starting with the twin challenges of leading a group.
Balance the twin challenges of leading a group
When you become responsible for the performance of a group, you accept two challenges. One is to accomplish the mission through the group. The other is to care for your team members and help them succeed.
You can’t do one or the other. You must do both. You can push to accomplish the mission and not worry about helping your teammates succeed. That might achieve some goals, but success won’t last because you won’t be building loyalty and trust and competence.
You can go the other way. You can care for the people and not worry too much about the mission. There’s a term that describes that: “career suicide.” And don’t be fooled. Your teammates don’t love you nearly as much as they want to be part of a successful team.
Balance the three kinds of work
As if two challenges aren’t enough, you must master three kinds of work. There’s leadership work, management work, and supervision work.
Leadership work is not your ticket to an exalted state of being. It’s hard work that will challenge you every day. You must set direction and help the team maintain momentum. It’s your job to define what’s important. If you don’t do this well, the team either grinds to a halt or winds up chasing shiny objects.
Management work is different. Management work is getting the mundane stuff done that keeps things running smoothly. Do this well, and no one may notice. Don’t do it well, and people will be ineffective and frustrated.
Now we come to supervision work. It’s often forgotten in the great debate about management versus leadership, but it’s essential for great team performance. This is the one-on-one part of your job. You work with individual team members to keep them on track so the mission gets accomplished and to help them achieve their goals so they succeed as individuals.
Just to make it interesting
There are two challenges and three kinds of work, and we’re not done yet. When you’re responsible for the performance of a group, you’re working with human beings. They have emotional issues and personal crises and it’s up to you to deal with all that.
There are the ghosts of bosses past. You have to deal with the expectations your team members developed working for other people.
Welcome to the world of leadership. It can be the most rewarding work in the world, but it won’t be easy. You must meet the twin challenges of accomplishing the mission and caring for your teammates. You must do three kinds of work. And you must remain resilient and adaptive to deal with all the human issues that will come your way.
When you’re responsible for the performance of a group, you have two challenges.
You must accomplish the mission through the group.
You must care for your teammates and help them succeed.
You must do three kinds of work: leadership, management, and supervision.
Leadership work is defining what’s important and maintaining momentum.
Management work is doing the mundane tasks that keep things running smoothly
Supervision work is keeping team members on track and helping them succeed.
You must do all three kinds of work: leadership, management, and supervision.