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7 perks of being a leader at work

June 9, 2014

Leader, with great power, comes great responsibility.

Cliff Robertson in Spiderman (2002). “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Alright, alright. It’s true. Being a leader is pretty awesome. Although, being a leader has its downsides, there’s no denying that being one also has its perks.


So, you’re a leader, are you? Good! That’s the spirit. But please, don’t be surprised when no one offers you that director or VP role when you’re fresh out of college or only have a couple of years under your belt. You’ve got to work for it, and you’ve got to learn how to be a good follower before you can become a good leader.


If you do happen to get that coveted position of manager, director, or VP, there are a few things to look forward to. But before you go kicking your feet up on your new desk and start calling your subordinates “kid”, and cracking a joke at their expense, you should know that you must handle leadership with care. In the words of Uncle Ben Parker from Spiderman (2002), “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Let’s run through seven perks of being a leader at work as laid out by Andrew J. DuBrin from the College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

1. Power and Prestige

As soon as you are given a position of leadership, you are automatically given some power. So, don’t squander this opportunity! This is when people start using Mr., Ms. or Mrs. to address you, giving you some sense of prestige, while non-managerial subordinates are still addressed by surnames. “Alright, Mr. Garza. What else do I get with my new position?” Okay, okay. Hopefully your company has enough money to get you that office with a view, a new desk, chair, a laptop, and some vacation time. But don’t push your luck. Some sales professionals are great leaders and barely have a desk or office- their office is the road, the sky, and hotel rooms.

2. Helping Others

You didn’t think this was going to be all about YOU, did you? In your new role, you will be working directly with people. Everyday. Was that in your job description? If you’re not a people person, learn to be one. It’s now part of your job to help develop your subordinates and colleagues into leaders as well. When you see the fruits of your labor in this aspect, it can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

3. “Show me the money!”

"Show me the money!"

Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire. “Show me the money!”

I think this is what you’ve been waiting for. More money. “How much more money do I get?!” Well, this is a complicated answer because of the wide range of leadership positions and types of organizations out there. While a Director of Content Marketing may only be making $40,000-$50,000 a year at a non-profit, college, or government agency, that person could also be making $80,000-$90,000 at a much larger corporation. However, don’t expect to get too far without a college degree. Most executive and mid to upper management positions require that piece of paper from a four-year college. So, if you don’t have one, get one.

4. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

“No respect. I get no respect around here.” Don’t worry, Rodney. If you’re not getting respected now, then you probably won’t ever. Just kidding. But if you’re thinking that along with the new position, you’ll automatically be respected, think again. Although you may be respected and treated with politeness at first, it’ll be short-lived if your skills are not up to par for what the position calls for. Ensure that you map out expectations from your subordinates, and that they understand the rules and procedures. Rules and procedures should be part of their programmed (routine) decision-making and should be made formal by putting in on paper and distributing it. This should be handled by a subordinate manager, but if it hasn’t been done, then it may fall on you.


Status most definitely comes along with your new position. Go ahead. You can revel in this one. Wear that sports coat like a champ. Pull out that suit and wear it to your next meeting. It’s allowed. Although be aware of whether you’re working in a casual environment or not. Don’t embarrass yourself by wearing a fine-tailored, freshly pressed suit while your colleagues and superiors are in khakis and short sleeves. With your new position, you’ll start to notice that subordinates may stumble nervously as they try to ensure they greet you appropriately and continue to do their job while you are around. Smile, let them know to keep up the good work (as long as they are) and continue on to your meeting.

5. “Movin’ on up.”

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson. "Movin' on up!"

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson. “Movin’ on up!”

In larger organizations, you’ll have more opportunity for advancement. This is not true in all cases. In most small to mid-size companies, there is literally no room for advancement. You will have to move companies all together if you want to move up. In a small to mid-size organization your leadership position is usually right under one of the C-level positions (CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, C whatever O). And I hate to bust your bubble, but you might NOT be called a Director or VP of anything even though you are right under this position. If you are, then kudos to you.


In a larger organization, you may be able to move up the corporate ladder much easier. But again, be aware that this is not true in all cases. I know someone who worked at HP for years as an analyst. The only way he moved up was by moving companies.

6. “Finally, I’ll be in the know!”

Yes, it’s true. You are now in on things. You get some of the inside information before anyone else in the organization gets it. You’ll know about firings, hirings, resignations, and movings. You’ll be privy to financial information, and you’ll hear about the “next big thing” happening in the company. Try to use this information for the benefit and outlook of the company. It is easy to get caught up in the idea that the company is going downhill after there are staffing changes. Stay calm. Do your job.

7. Moving money around

So, now that you have some power, this means that you’ll have a say in how resources and money are used in the company. Again, it should be pointed out that this largely depends on the type and size of the organization. In addition, this also depends on the type leaders you have in the company. If you have a very controlling CEO who allocates money for his own wants and desires, personalized power motive, then there might not be much money left to run your projects. Hopefully though, you do have some say in how resources are used, in which case, refer back to the quote by Uncle Ben Parker.


As you can see, there’s always a catch to being a leader, even when you have some pretty nice perks. Once you figure out what motives drive you as a leader, the upsides can be very rewarding. Seeing someone you advised and led flourish into a better leader than you are will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, just like completing a successfully run project. So, go on. Get cracking, and start leading.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe to my blog via email for tips on business and creative writing.

Peace out.

Alexander

Business, Leadership, Uncategorized

9 downsides to being a leader at work

June 5, 2014

kevinspaceyhouseofcardsBeing a leader isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. You’re probably thinking: putting your feet up on the desk and barking orders at people both sound like pretty cool ways of leading. And hey, if that’s all leading was about, then I’d be the first to sign up. So, you got a big promotion. Or you’ve been told that you’re a natural-born leader. Your ego is a bit inflated, and you get excited. One day, you’re “gonna be at the top”, the “decision-maker”, the “one who signs the checks”.

Well, I hate to bust your bubble, but leading an organization or team is not always as glamorous as it seems. Now, don’t get me wrong: leadership is a skill that you should strive for, practice, and develop. It’s one of the four pillars of management and it’s vital in today’s business world and society. These are 9 downsides of being a leader at work as outlined by Andrew J. DuBrin from the College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

1. The myth of the 40-hour work week

Say goodbye to overtime pay. Once you’re on salary. It doesn’t matter how many overtime hours you work, you won’t get a dime more (unless you get bonuses). Now this is evident in so many industries. In my current position, I have worked 50-60 hour weeks, without any overtime pay. If your job or projects are flexible, then you may be able to do some of this work from home, but you’re still not compensated for it. Even when I was teaching, if you were in the arts or sports, then you could expect to work 60-70 hour weeks. If you have kids, that means that you’re spending more time with other people’s kids than your own.

2. “May I have another please? An aspirin?”

The number of headache-inducing problems rise with every second that passes while you are a leader. This can be attributed to contingencies. Example: The project demands an intense and comprehensive marketing and advertising campaign. The launch has been expedited. Everything is due next week. Your lead graphic designer just had a baby, so is on leave. Your lead copywriter got another job. And the only thing your intern has learned is how to make a decent cup of coffee. The better the leader you are, the easier it is to handle these types of issues.

3. “Publish-” Er- I mean, “Perform or Perish”.

This can be one of the most stressful things to deal with. If the company doesn’t do well, then who’s to blame? You better believe, that if you’re a leader, the CEO s going to come gunning for you. You better pray that he has a very in-depth knowledge of the market, industry, and organization if the reason for poor overall performance is out of your control. If he or she doesn’t, then you WILL be blamed.

4. They expect miracles from peanuts.

As a leader, you will often be faced with a situation where you are responsible for a goal, that you have little control over. If you are asked to get a fully loaded web and social media marketing strategy executed, you are going to need a budget. If you’re asked to construct a building, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology and design, you are going to need some kind of budget. There isn’t a way around it. This really comes down to authority. And, no, I don’t mean YOU pay out-of-pocket and then submit expense reports. That is complete BS. No money. No work. Comprende?

5. Oh, so alone.

Be careful getting too “buddy-buddy” with your teammates. If you get promoted, you’ll be the one deciding their fates- who gets promoted, who gets fired, evaluations, the whole nine. Then what happens? The team goes out for drinks after work, and they don’t invite you. They’re actually going to talk shit about you. It’s true. Get over it. That’s why you shouldn’t hire your close friends.

6. You have to be a people person.

Man, do I hate people. Well, I really love them too. What’s a guy to do? Being a leader means that you will be dealing with people on a daily basis. This means that after you fire John, you’ll be up late at night wondering how he, his wife, and kids are going to pay for their mortgage next month. Say goodbye to college, John’s kids. You did this. Now if you can master being a people person, more power to you. Being a people person isn’t about feeling guilty about firing someone, it’s about being sure to provide employment resources and references for one of your displaced team members, a.k.a. John.

7. Politics is a bitch.

Yup, it’s in your backyard, it’s in your house, it’s in your office, and it’s probably in your pants. It’s in every office in EVERY industry. Don’t believe your pal who brags about how their job doesn’t have that much politics, because it’s all a load of crap. Start learning how to negotiate, and politics will get easier to deal with when it comes up.

8. “We just want different things”.

Conflicting goals is often a source of trouble for you in a leadership role. It is already hard enough to get everyone on the same page, but then Bob has something completely different in mind. Lots of meeting are gonna result from this one. If you’re lucky you won’t have to fire him, and you’ll still achieve your goal. What if he doesn’t budge? Well, there’s a little thing called compromise. This is why being a leader involves a mutual partnership between the leader and the follower. (Yes, I said “follower”. Good leaders are also good followers.)

9. The evil businessman.

Being a leader of a large organization or business often comes with the public perception that you’re evil, selfish, greedy, and generally an overall bad guy. “But, Alex, I’m not a bad guy.” Whatever. You are in the eyes of the “people”. You’ll get people to change their perception once they see some action. Actions always speak louder than words.

Do it. Be a leader.

Don’t let these nine downsides of being a leader discourage you. They are just a realistic view of the challenges that leaders face. Be ready to face them. Everyday. Move on. Be strong. Go lead.

Peace out.

-Alexander