During my management career, I went through many a time where I thought I couldn’t be a good manager, didn’t enjoy it, or felt that I had made too many mistakes. At one time, we had a new boss join our established team, who not only didn’t understand anyone who was different or managed differently to him, but was also playing the “divide and conquer” game on my peers and I. As part of his new management technique he then told me that I would never get any further in my career, as I was (amongst other things) “too protective of my team” and “wasn’t serious enough and had too much fun with everyone”.
It was that time that I completely lost my confidence and who to be, for about 6 months. I had been successful so far based on my personality, values, knowledge and experience – my teams had achieved excellent results and were highly motivated. So in order to progress further, my boss was telling me I had to be someone completely different. It was only when one of my close peers said to me “Karen, you’ve lost your mojo”, that I decided that I had to revert to my natural style and build from there, whilst coaching my boss in the benefits of diversity (and humour) in his team.
In the end that worked very well, and my boss later thanked me and continued to ask for my advice even when I’d moved on from that department.
Leadership can be a difficult role, trying to balance the needs of the senior executives with the needs of the team. Trying to identify how to develop the individuals in your team, within the constraints and the targets expected from the organisation. However, it makes it even more difficult if you are also trying to be someone you’re not.
Have you received feedback that you need to develop in skills that you know are not suitable for you? Has your boss ignored your strengths in favour of constantly reviewing your weaknesses (in their eyes)?
Feedback is obviously very important for our progress. But developing your self-awareness, so that you can fully appreciate your own strengths and weaknesses, is vital. The best leaders know how to utilise and develop the skills of the individuals (including themselves), to build a team that combines strengths that complement each other, rather than expecting everyone to have the same skills.
So, if you have lost your mojo, then my recommendation would be to go through a process of fully analysing your achievements to date, your strengths, your style and your values (and there are many management tools such as MBTI which can help with that). Then look at the feedback you are getting and establish if those are in line or out of line with your values. Utilise your unique set of strengths and build from there. None of us can be great leaders until we have spent time developing self-awareness, learning from our mistakes and appreciating the differences of others.
Many managers skip developing themselves as they feel they know enough to get through the day to day already. But there is so much to learn and experience, all of which giving you the opportunity to be great for your team, as well as maintaining your mojo for continued success of your own.