Gurdeep jumped into his new management position with energy and lots of new ideas. Six months in it was easy to see he was struggling.
His manager noted an increase in his impatient attitude with his direct reports. His demeanor was coming across like he was constantly disappointed in them.
His manager worked with her HR Business Partner to address the situation quickly. They offered Gurdeep the opportunity to enroll in an Executive Coaching program.
Gurdeep was somewhat reluctant as he felt he was just going through normal growing pains of taking on a new role. As much as his manager tried to be very candid with feedback, he didn’t appear to understand the impact he was having on the team.
During his first coaching session Gurdeep shared his reservations as he felt he did not need extra support.
“I have been successfully running project teams for years and moving into a formal management position is the logical next step for my career.
My manager thinks it has been a rocky start, but I think it is normal for people to be reluctant with a new manager. I’m sure I will win them over eventually!” he declared.
“Are you able to pinpoint what the ‘rocky start’ exactly means?” I asked. “What parts of your leadership are rocky?”
“I think maybe I just have higher expectations than their last manager.” he said.
“Maybe they are a bit anxious about whether they will measure up to my expectations, but I have an obligation to the organization to get results, and my project teams have always got results quickly in the past!” he shared proudly.
“Hmmmm” I pondered. “Do you see a difference between your past project teams and this team you are now leading?”
Gurdeep thought about this question. “Not really” he said after a few minutes. “A team is a team…isn’t it?”
As we explored this further, Gurdeep recognized that his approach to project leadership was focused on having a short time frame for innovation, execution, and results.
There was no focus on getting to know the team members on a personal level as it was their talent and experiences that were most important to him. Yet he couldn’t see that he needed to approach this team any differently.
I tried a different angle. “Who is the best leader you have worked with,” I asked.
Gurdeep thought about this question. “Well, I would have to say it was my last manager.”
“And what made that person such a great leader for you?” I continued.
“Well, she seemed to really care about my success. I felt like she really knew me as a person, not just an employee. She knew what I was good at, she knew my passions and ambitions, and she worked with me to achieve my goals. I believe it is because of her support, feedback and encouragement along the way that I got this new role.” he replied.
“So how well do you know your new team members, Gurdeep?” I asked. “What are their talents, passions, and goals? How are you demonstrating that you care about their success?”
Gurdeep went very quiet for several minutes.
Then he offered up this statement, ”I think I have some work to do!”
Gurdeep is a good person. He is also a very good project manager. Making the transition into leading another kind of team was a bit trickier than he imagined. Lucky for him, his manager saw a potential issue and jumped on it quickly.
Through a series of 1:1 coaching sessions, Gurdeep was able to better understand the impact he was having. He recognized that how he thought about his leadership, influenced how he behaved with the team.
With the help of his coach, he created an action plan that included painting a new picture of the kind of leader he wanted to be and the kind of feedback he hoped to get from his team about their experience with him.
Feedback received from the team, after a six-month coaching engagement, demonstrated that Gurdeep was moving in the right direction.
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