Are You a Manager? A Lesson in Humility

We are all like to think of ourselves as humble, right?

How do we react when this is put to the test?

I recently had a moment of humility that left me a little speechless, but provided a great lesson.

As I edit and update this in late 2016 the memory of what happened still makes me laugh, some 12 months later.

Natalie, if you ever read this, thank you for teaching me a great lesson.

Are You A Manager?

Natalie looked agitated and wanted help. It was the well known look of someone who was dealing with an angry customer. I hired Natalie and she impressed me in her interview. She demonstrated great enthusiasm and I saw great potential. Natalie had been with the company for several months and although we worked in the same Dept. our paths had not crossed much.

The Contact Center I worked in was a small one, with a head count of around ninety people. I’m also around 6’4 in height with the build of a retired rugby player. Due to the small size of the Dept. everyone knows everyone, or at least I thought they did. The exchange went something like this..

Natalie: Hi, are you free?

Me: Sure

Natalie: I need some help, are you a Manager?


Now, this article is not some vanity piece.

I’m not upset Natalie asked the question, although it did take me by surprise a little.

My peers were howling with laughter when I told them about the question. It is seems my status is something they wonder about too (Thanks Team!).


What’s In Your Advert?

The exchange did spark something I had not considered for a while.


Some people cringe at the term brand. How you choose to define it is up to you.

Brand can be many things from how you are perceived to how you make people feel.

Another way of looking at it is to thin of yourself as an advert. If you were a product, what would be in your advert? What messages would you want to convey? How would you get people interested in you?

Whether we like to admit it or not, perception is reality.

Which Filter Is Being Used?

The biggest challenge we face as leaders is dealing with many perceptions and many realities.

Everyone is filtering their experience of you, as their leader.

If you lead a team of ten people you may be dealing with ten different perceptions. You have to manage each of those in different ways to get the best from the team.

Think about iconic adverts and the impact they have on you. I had no desire for an Apple Watch until I saw the launch advert. The colours, the music and the messages all drew me in. I think I’m past the worst of the fever, maybe…

If you created a version of the Apple advert about you, what would it look like?

How do people know about you, what you specialise in and why you are important to them? How are you cultivating relationships with people outside of your immediate team, Dept and business?

To put it another way: If you were a PLC would your share price and equity be increasing or decreasing? Would people want to invest in you and your product? How would you know?


Get Out There

What small change(s) could you put in place, right now, that would make a difference to how you lead and how you are perceived?

Increasing my focus in this area may have resulted in Natalie being clear about who I was.

One suggestion I offer is to learn all the names of the people in the Dept.

This challenge may be easy or hard, depending on the size of the Dept. Yet the impact of hearing your own name, from someone you did not think knew your name, is powerful.

Imagine if the Chief Exec bumped into you, knew your name and knew a little of the work you are dealing with at the moment. You would feel surprised but in a good way.

Powerful stuff, huh?

If someone is unsure about who you are then you have not done enough work on your brand.

Get out there. Help people. Ask them about their struggles. Find out what they can teach you. Work out what you can teach them. Ask them about their plans.

Just get out from behind your desk and make a difference.

Believe and take action.

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Ian Ruane

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