Many people are struggling for a leadership position thinking it is prestigious and gives them a lot of benefits. However, it`s not that simple. With great power comes great responsibility, and with great responsibility come great constraints. When you are at a leading position, you are a role model for the other people in your team or organization, whether you like it or not. It means that colleagues will be watching you, they will be discussing you and they will be inheriting your behavior. All said above means that you should think twice before saying something and thrice before doing something. You have to think about the consequences of your words and actions, about their impact on other people, on your project and organization. If you`re a newly minted leader, who doesn’t believe me, just keep doing whatever you had done before you got a leadership position, and failure won’t be far behind.
At some point after getting my first managing position, I understood that my life would never be the same again. I realized that I began to avoid some of my previously common behaviors, either instinctively or consciously. Let me tell you about several bad habits I had to give up when I became a project manager.
Bad habits that I had to get rid of when becoming a project manager:
1. Neglecting of my personal appearance
I have never paid too much attention to my personal look. Taking care of your appearance takes a lot of time, effort and, sometimes, money. If you spend most of your working day in front of a computer, it seems to you there is nobody around to be impressed with your look. However, after taking a manager’s role I have realized that the biggest part of my work now is communication with other people. And it really matters how these people perceive me. Sure, contemporary managers may still sit most of the day in front of the computer and lead their team remotely. But even in this case you, probably, have video conference calls with your colleagues and they see how you look. So, now I understand that clean and neat clothes, tidy haircut and a haven face are my best everyday friends.
Frankly speaking, I still have issues with this: sometimes getting up early in the morning after a long workday I get lazy to shave or don’t find time to fix my hair. But, at least, I understand now how important it is to look good.
2. Gossiping about colleagues and company management
Everyone knows that gossiping is not a good thing. However, in most cases, the only common topic for discussion with your colleagues is your work and everything related to it. That’s why gossiping is still prospering in the work environment. Moreover, there are people who like to pull someone to pieces or complain about their bosses. I believe, for them, this is either a way to set up communication with other colleagues or just a means to relieve stress.
Anyway, you should be mindful of the potential negative consequences of taking part in gossiping or just listening to gossip. Behaving in such a way may have negative consequences even for a regular employee. And when you’re a manager, adverse implications of gossiping are much higher for you. First of all, you bear reputational risks. When your subordinates see your supporting gossip they may decide that you`re not a reliable person.
It is a complete disaster when you support or even initiate complaints about the top management of the company. When you together with colleagues are gossiping about your bosses, the team will perceive you as one of the lads. And they will definitely expect corresponding behavior from you, which is to the benefit of the team, not the company. Sure, you as a manager, let alone Scrum Master, should take care of your team and protect your team members from inadequate business requests. However, you should understand that, in fact, you`re not a complete part of the team, you`re just in-between the team and business management. Sometimes you have to make decisions in favor of business, not in favor of your team.
Remember that you open the Pandora box gossiping with your teammates.
3. Drinking too much at corporate parties.
I live in a society where drinking alcohol at parties is a common thing. Moreover, it is encouraged, and if you don’t drink alcohol, people may think that something is wrong with you: either you have health issues or you just don’t appreciate people surrounding you at the moment. For many of us drinking alcohol is a way to relax and have fun.
However, it is a fact that alcohol has a negative impact on your brain and your behavior. If you drink too much there is always a risk that you, in the best case, will say or do something wrong. In the worst case, you may get drunk with all associated symptoms (I guess, you get what I mean).
The consequences may be really painful. On a corporate party, not only your team but your managers are watching you. So, you`re at risk not only of losing your reputation but also of losing your job or promotion opportunity. Remember, that you`re a role model. And drinking too much is not the way managers behave. You should control yourself. So, since you`re the manager, no more fun on corporate parties. Sorry, dude!
4. Posting bullshit on social media.
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have completely changed the way we communicate with our friends, relatives, and even strangers. On the one hand, social media gives us a unique opportunity to get the most interesting and up-to-date news and share memorable moments of our lives with others. But on the other hand, when your personal life is exposed on the Web (note, on your own initiative) it may conceal the risks you can’t foresee. The more public you are, the more implications your reckless posts on Facebook may have. Today the number of cases when somebody was fired because of thoughtless posts on social media is estimated by hundreds, if not thousands.
Sure, if you`re just an ordinary middle manager and not a brand ambassador of your company, it is unlikely that you will be fired because of your posts. But anyway, you should remember that everything you publish on social media may be read by your colleagues. Sometimes I meet people on the Web who are directly complaining about their clients, their subordinates, their bosses on Facebook or other social media sites. The first that comes to my mind when I see such posts is: “Guys, you must be mad! The Web is open and the possibility that the people you are writing about in your post may see it is about 100%.” You may be too rude in criticizing some people in your posts and they may be insulted. As a result, an innocent social media post can significantly affect your work relationships with other people.
Another issue is inappropriate photos or texts posted by you on Facebook. This again may worsen your authority among your colleagues. I guess it’s needless to explain how important it is to maintain authority if you are in a leadership position?
That’s why you’d better think before posting anything on social media, namely, who may read your post and what their reaction will be. If only you knew how often I start writing a post, but then leave it unpublished.
5. Using swear words
I rarely use obscene language towards other people in order to offend them. However, I have a sin of using swear words as exclamations in order to highlight my emotional state at the moment. And despite the fact that I`ve always tried to control my language in the working environment, from time to time during informal talks with my colleagues some bad words might come off the tip of my tongue. Now, when I`m a project manager, I understand that obscene words are completely not what my subordinates, let alone my managers, are happy to hear from me during meetings or even informal conversations. I believe that swearing can be justified only when you’re surrounded by the closest friends, but definitely not in a business environment. Obscene language doesn’t suit anyone at a leadership position.
This list of bad habits is just a tiny part of the limitations you`re facing when you are in a leadership position. So, be mindful that your life will change significantly as soon as you got promoted. Everything has its own benefits and drawbacks.