Taking on a supervisory role can be intimidating. It can be especially intimidating when you are half the age of the employees you are going to be leading, and/or you have not worked with those employees personally, and they are skeptical of you from the start. I am qualified for my supervisor position because of my Bachelor’s degree and my proven dedication to success. But, ironically, they did not teach me anything about leading a team of skeptics in my undergraduate classes.
When I took the position I am in, Banquet Operations Coordinator at the Hilton Garden Inn, I was in my final semester of my undergraduate degree in English Writing. We didn’t spend a lot of time talking about business or team management or leadership in my classes. We spent a lot of time talking about writing styles, tone, voice, diction, effectiveness, efficiency, precision, art, ethics, etc. We talked about different options for publishing our work. We did not talk about business—not ever.
Fortunately, growing up around leadership training helped prepare me for the role I was taking on. I knew how to communicate with people effectively, and I knew one of the most important things about being a manager from day one: You lead people, you manage things. I remember hearing this for the first time at a very young age, when LIA was just starting out, but it stuck with me. Because I have always known this as a rule, I have been frustrated in positions where managers have not been leaders.
Because I have known this, I have taken my role as an opportunity to manage only my time and my tasks. My team, I do not manage. My team, I lead. My team, I support. My team, I encourage. My team, I am a part of. That is the biggest part of management that I have seen managers fail to understand. You are the leader of the team. You have to be a part of something to lead it. That means getting your hands dirty now and then. It means doing grunt work, it means listening, it means problem-solving. It means training, and being willing to learn from your teammates. It means asking for help when you are in over your head, and being willing to admit if you have made a mistake, and learn and grow from it.
CONTINUED GROWTH IS THE GOAL
I am still learning, and I have a long way to go, but I am proud of the work I have done so far in my first supervisory role. I am excited about the success of the team I built, and still, I know we have work to do. I know that I have to be an active participant in our success, just as I expect the employees on my team to actively work on their growth. When you are a leader, you are responsible for believing in your team, and growing them. You have to be able to have difficult conversations, and still be able to relate to your employees. After you have earned their respect, they will not fail you, and they trust that you will not fail them. Walk in their shoes, listen to their feelings, empathize with them, learn from them, believe in them—lead them. Be the kind of leader you wish you had experienced when you weren’t the boss.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie Redieske is a graduate of the English program at Northern Illinois University, with an emphasis in Writing. She is the Banquet Operations Coordinator at the Hilton Garden Inn, and writes freelance in her spare time. She resides in Rockford, Illinois and spends as much time as possible traveling and experiencing the world. https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanieredieske/