By Wally Bock
Being a boss is hard work and it's different work from what you did as an individual contributor. Here are some important things you should know if you've just become a boss. For one thing, some people will start treating you like you're a jerk. You have not just become a jerk, but some people will think you have. There are people in the world who think that all bosses are jerks. Some of those people will be in the group that used to be your friends. The only thing you can do is the best job you can so you can give the ones willing to change their minds a reason to do so. That's not all. Some of them will expect special treatment. Some will use their "friendship" with you as a way to lord it over others. It is sad to lose those friends, but you will lose some. Your continuing friends will support you in your new position. It is good to have real friends who stay your friends even when you succeed. You have become a leader whether you want to be one or not. That's because the people who work for you will treat you the way they treat any leader.
They will expect you to set direction and help them understand the importance and purpose of their work. The will expect you expect you to make decisions. They will not tell you things they used to tell you. They will filter a lot of what they do tell you through their self-interest. Since you are going to be a leader anyway, you might as well be a good one. It takes just as much effort to be a good leader as to be an ineffective one, and it's a whole lot more pleasant and rewarding. No matter what you may think, you actually have less power now than you did before. That's because your performance is based on the performance of your team. Their performance is your destiny. That's the bad news. The good news is that you have much more influence than before. Since people are treating you like a leader, it means they will watch what you do and listen to what you say even if it may not always seem that way. You can use what you do and say to influence their behavior and performance in powerful ways. So set upon a course of self-development that includes developing your leadership skills. Start by picking out some role models to emulate, after adjusting for your own style and situation, of course.
Remember that you have two jobs. You must accomplish the mission. And you must care for your people. Be sure to develop the skills that will help you do better at both. Figure out a way to get honest feedback on how you're doing. That's one thing that holds lots of managers back for achieving their full potential. They want to hear the good things about their behavior and performance, but not the bad. You listen to honest feedback for two reasons. First of all, it helps you do better. If you know what needs improvement you can work on it. Second, it helps create an environment of candor for your team. Don't just get feedback from others. Make it habit to critique your own leadership performance. Take a moment or two after every significant action to note the situation, what you intended, what happened and how you might do things better next time. Find some people to talk to about your new role.
Leadership is an apprentice trade. You learn most of it on the job. And you can learn a lot by talking to other leaders about your new role. They can help you with general principles and with specific situations. Making the transition from individual contributor to effective boss usually takes twelve to eighteen months. During that time you'll develop your own style and learn what works best for you. Good bosses are the bedrock of business. Good bosses are the people most responsible for productivity and morale. You can join the club of good bosses, but it won't be easy and it won't be quick. Start by paying attention to the differences that come with being a boss. Work on developing your leadership skills. Be the best boss you can be every day and a better boss the next. Becoming a great boss is worth the effort.
About The Author: Wally Bock helps people like you do a better job as a boss. He coaches individual managers, and is a popular speaker at meetings and conferences. Request Wally's free After-Action Critique Form from http://www.threestarleadership.com/critiqueformsampleform.htm