Lift As You Climb
Remember when you were just starting off in your career, sitting at a small desk with bad lighting, and an old office chair that was on its (literal) last leg? Did you ever find yourself glancing over to the large corner office, envious of the bright windows, beautiful furniture, and competent assistant sitting outside, ready to order the boss lunch at a moment’s notice?
Being in charge seemed glamorous, and having a team to direct seemed like the best spot in the company. Imagine having a job where all you have to do is tell other people what to do!
Being a boss is hard.
What people early in their career don’t yet know, is that as you gain experience and are offered opportunities, things get much, much harder. Only relying on yourself to get tasks done is easy: managing others takes more time and care. When someone you manage makes a mistake, that reflects on you, and probably means that the person who made it didn’t have the necessary tools to be successful…and you have to solve for this larger issue in addition to fixing the actual mistake. Every. Day.
And, if you are a boss or manager, you don’t want to be a bad one. Remember how the person in the corner office was maybe a bully, or not organized, or was a poor communicator? Being a successful manager means that you are also constantly working on yourself in addition to supporting your team, and running your department or company… It’s really hard work because you have to lift as you climb.
As you climb the corporate ladder and are given more opportunities and the responsibility that comes with it, you also have to lift those below you. Here’s what I mean:
Invest in Yourself
You can’t be of any of value to others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Figure out what you need to operate at your best: watching your diet, getting enough sleep, finding a creative outlet, exercising, or working with a leadership coach. Whatever it is that makes you function at your optimum level, do it so you can take great care of your team.
Be an Intentional Leader
When you are entrusted to manage and lead a team, it comes with a great amount of responsibility to your organization and the people you now lead. There is no “perfect” leader – approach this role with authenticity. It’s up to you to determine the type of leader you want to be, and what it will take to get you there, and keep you there.
Advocate for Your Team
Finally, you need to serve as your fiercest advocate for each member of your team. To do this, you need to understand their goals and strengths. As you continue to climb the ladder, lift them along with you when you can. Not everyone wants to take on new challenges – some people see opportunity for what it is: hard work – it’s up to you to know how you can advocate for your team and help each individual climb, too.