Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > on the leadership advice that no-one gave me

on the leadership advice that no-one gave me

Last week I was asked what advice I could give to someone who was about to make the move up from the shop floor to their first management position. It’s forty five years since I had my own first go at taking that step and the memories of it are still painful today.

In my first few attempts at leadership I was being asked to step up and cover for holiday relief rather than making the full-time move up the ladder and advice was more in the terms of “hit your targets and don’t cock it up”. On my first go I managed the latter in spades, but learning from mistakes is a lesson in itself and over the next couple of years I got the hang of it sufficiently for me to have enough confidence in my abilities for me to look forward to those moments when the chance to take over for a week or two came around.

Therein lies one of the key things that a leader needs. If you sit with a group of people and ask them to list leadership characteristics you will find trust on the first pass around the group pretty much every time. People follow people that they trust, but how do you get them to trust you?

Trusting them first is an easy step; it’s the one that I failed to do in my first go and in that failure I also lost another crucial leadership factor in that, by not showing them respect, I lost their respect for me. And that was all on the first day. I got through the rest of my week of, in theory, being in charge by agreeing to abdicate and just let the team run itself. If I had done that in the first place and just been there to sign what needed signing and made any decisions that needed making it would all have worked better, but then I wouldn’t have learned as much.

The thing that they don’t tell you is that trust also comes from being confident, or at least appearing to be confident. People will not trust someone who does not seem confident about what they are doing so when you take the step up it doesn’t matter how much your knees are knocking you need to appear to be in control..

It does need to be confidence and not over-confidence for people will back away if you come across as cocky and full of yourself, but as long as you can start off giving an apearance of confidence things will start to work for you and you will gain real a real belief in yourself.

So that was my advice to my young friend and I hope that he is successful.


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