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What a new leader has to learn

Ted Blackwater |
As a new leader, one of the things you'll notice first is that you have so much to learn, no matter your professional background. The faster you learn, the better, but here are a few tips you can learn right now.

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The first thing you'll learn is that you will be learning until the very day you step down from your position. No matter you previous experience and background, leadership demands its own set of skills and there is always something new to learn. New competitor, business procedures, production technologies you must know about, soft people skills... A manager can't allow to be left behind and think she's experienced enough, no matter how many years she is sitting in the chair on the top of the corporate building.

While you are learning, you will see that you must be a teacher at the same time. You'll be asked numerous questions every day and people will expect your guidance on all range of topics, from some problems in production to what to do if they have some personal problems.

Here you will learn very fast that you must be a shrink first, a leader after that, and business person is on the spot No3. This is in a sense a very lonely position because with all the help you can get from your board and your employees, everybody will eventually look at you and ask "So, what to do?"

Another thing to learn, and learn it fast if you want to have that CEO chair for a long time, is that there is a difference between being a boss and being a leader. A boss is, well, a boss. A person on the top. The one that has "Boss" sign on the doors. You know, the person someone thinks should be there. Someone that can fire you just like that. But a leader... The true leader is one that people are not afraid to approach, the person that encourages other to work harder and achieve more, one that gives guidance and moves away to let the people work freely.

The next important thing you will learn, and unfortunately some never does, is that you can't work all day long, every day. If you work every single moment and can't find the time for yourself, that means that you are doing something very wrong. Forget "I work all day long" stories and people saying that with a proud smile on their face, they will be in trouble sooner or later.

First, if you don't stop for a while, you won't be able to collect your thoughts and think what's really going on in your company. Second, this is not good for your health, every body needs time to rest. And remember, there are top CEOs worrying from 9 to 5 and they are extremely successful. So, forget killing yourself every day with 20 hours working day and leave some time for yourself.

And for the end, maybe the most important advice of them all: use your common sense. You don't have to have an MBA degree to learn that people expect to be paid, that you have to treat them good, that everybody has some personal problems...

Those are all things we all know since we were in the kindergarten so when you see "101 tip to be a better leader" and the first advice is "You should respect your employees" run from that as hell because a) your mother already thought you that and b) somebody is trying to act smart stating facts we all know are true. So, choose your coach wisely.

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