Being a younger leaderOccasionally, you may find yourself managing a team of employees that have a racked up a few more years in the industry than you, which can be a daunting prospect. One fear may be that your team could be doubting your skillset, as “knowledge comes with age,” – right?. “My first leadership role was within a city derivatives brokerage. I was around 22 years old and was leading a team in which most people were double my age with 20 years’ experience in the markets on me. It was incredibly tough as the environment is super fast-paced and everyone is an alpha. Convincing seniors in my team who wanted nothing more than to see me fail was a daily battle” shares Sezer Sherif, the CEO of Vanguard Capital. Here are his tips for nailing leadership: 1. Earn respect – quickly from those that would cause deliberate reason for you to fail. I did this by leading from the front and treating everyone as an equal and by sharing my techniques as well as listening to others opinions. 2. Remain self-aware– in leading you are generally alone and therefore always questioning yourself. Most like to criticise, so you have to be able to remain thick-skinned and always self-assured. 3. Learn from failure – to be a leader you must realise that you will never always be right or get it right. But the ability to see the lesson and to hold faith during failure kept the morale, focus and loyalty of the teams I worked with.
Battling your confidence demonsPopular-psychology coined the term “imposter syndrome” to describe the feeling many people get throughout their career when they feel undeserving of a role, or are questioning their ability in a new role. Even for people in the most C-suite roles, it’s a difficult emotion to kick to the curb. “The first time I was put in a leadership position was when the business was going through a crisis due to a drop in organic search traffic after launching a completely new website. I was in charge of the only website that still generated substantial revenue for the business and hence I was put in charge of an action plan, working directly under our CEO. Being only 25 years old, that was a highly challenging and intimidating experience, but at the same time highly satisfactory as I had the chance to directly have an impact on the business”, reveals Julia Munder Marketing Director of Maxwell-Scott.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
Positive confrontation is keyIn a people-facing role, you cannot be gun-shy about confronting your colleagues. While you may yearn to be liked by your staff (because nobody wants to be the boss that is gossiped about during lunch hour), you’ll find that what your team will appreciate most is an honest employer who lays their cards on the table. “My team were all extremely conscientious and want to do the best work possible for clients so there was a lot of pressure to ensure I bridged the gap efficiently and kept the team running as well as it had been,” says Marissa, a team leader at Glass Digital. Here are her tips on overcoming leadership hurdles:
Hiring – isn’t always a smooth process, at one point we had to let a member of the team go which was really tough. It’s such a hard decision to make especially after you have worked closely with them and begun to bond.
Making decisions – It took me a long time to feel comfortable delegating a whole team, I feel at first, I may have been too indecisive which can cause confusion. I’ve learnt to make decisions quickly and take on the responsibility of this.
Not delegating – when I first took on the role I tried to do as much as I could by myself without asking for help and alongside all my usual work. However, since settling into the role I’ve learnt to pass on work and responsibilities to other members of the team. One advantage of having such a dedicated team is that I can confidently pass on tasks and responsibilities without worry. I’m also now much more honest about when I’m struggling with time.
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