I was sitting in my office the other day (I have an office!?!), in a new city, trying to learn how to use a PC again and figure out what my teams need from me first. My husband of only a few months was a state away.
I was horribly lonely. I went to walk out and talk to someone in the newsroom, and I stopped myself. Complaints should never fall downhill as a leader. This has been one of the hardest lessons in my time as a manager.
You can be frustrated. You can be angry or sad. But you have to know when it’s productive to share that with your team. Most of the time, it’s not. Vulnerability is amazing for a leader to show. It’s good for people to know you’re human. It’s amazing for them to know that you have weak points and strengths and maybe they complement your weaknesses. But there is a fine line, a point where you’ve shown so much that you are seen as weak. You may appear or act so frustrated, they lose confidence in you and your ability to help them succeed.
I’m at SRCCON:POWER this week, and at a session yesterday, someone said being a manager meant that you are a “shit umbrella.” But that umbrella needs to be a tiny bit porous, but not too much so. Again, fine line.
This is why it’s lonely at the top. I’ve determined it works best for me if I am friendly with most staff, but only true friends with people at my level. It adds a tiny bit of distance, yes, but as a person who feels strong feelings, that distance has become necessary. At my last job, I made the mistake of letting frustrations flow downhill and it was one of the things that brought about my firing, I think. There were other mistakes on others’ part, but that was a main one of mine. It took a lot of time and a bit of a nervous breakdown to realize that.
So this time around, I’ve determined that I can make other friends, even in a new city. I’m using my other networks (hello JOCs and Hustlers!) to find solutions to my frustrations and worries. I’m writing things down furiously and trying not to answer or react immediately unless I need to. Give myself time to process.
It’s lonely at the top, but you can reach out for a hand.
Reading // Thinking // What I’m up to
Reading // The story behind the Great British Baking Show art / Pen recommendations from The Strategist (great gift ideas!)
Find me // I’m at SRCCON:POWER and I’d love to meet you!
Pondering // The word “empowerment”, still, from last week. I found a great read about this.