The transitional journey of becoming an Early Years’ Manager is an emotionally challenging one; the change of identify and the challenge of gaining trust and commitment from your new team can feel overwhelming.
From my experience of delivering Action Learning Sets, I understand the range of dilemmas facing managers as they settle into their new roles. They often talk of feeling isolated, struggling with ambivalence and find that implementing change feels almost impossible.
Defining leadership- The first step
One of the first steps I take is to help new managers clearly define their leadership style, to help them fully embrace their responsibilities as a team leader.
We do this by getting them to take a step back and look at their perception of leadership, without any unnecessary baggage from their previous roles,and this helps them to rethink their belief systems and values.
This often involves participants challenging unhelpful assumptions that they’ve placed on themselves about what effective leadership must, should, could and ought to look like from their subjective past experiences.
Involving and enabling your team
To become an effective leader means being “an enabler of people”; as such managers should always give their teams the opportunity to have their say in the decision making processes.
This helps every team member feel heard and also gives them the chance to take responsibility and become accountable for their future actions.
New managers often feel that they are responsible for their success as a manager, but after reflection and insightful questions from the other set members they soon realise that their role requires delivery through others and participation and engagement in order to gain trust and commitment from their new team.
Gradually, as the sets progress, they began to understand the benefits and art of delegation and they also learn to shift their identity from an individual into a much more empowering source.
Take away actions for new managers
Managers go away from our sessions with plenty of take away actions to help them as they progress into their new roles; this often involves them changing their future focus to “us the team”- not “me” as the Manager- so that an emphasis is placed on valuing the collective outcome of the team input over their individual contributions.
They learn to share their vision by working alongside aligning their values to policy improvement. Action learning also helps them to focus on listening to different perspectives rather than rushing to solve problems one way.
It also helps them to establish a consensus and accountability from the team with shared decision making. They also learn that reducing their control helps them to build a high performance team because it enabled and empowered the team to become accountable for their actions and helps them create cohesion.
Other actions managers take away after being promoted internally to their new role were to:
- Make time to discuss with theirteam what is going to be different and what the issues might be and explore how the situation could be approached, if required use action learning sets to help alleviate any concerns or anxieties
- Embark on important conversations and make plans or an agreement on how to move forward
- Ensure theirteam know they can give feedback so they feel listened to and valued
- Create sufficient reflective space so that problem issues can be discussed at the earliest opportunity (at least once a month)and if internal facilitation doesn’t work then find an external action learning set facilitator to do this
- Ask senior management to invest in continuous professional development in their new role and fortheir team to become particularly aware of where problems cannot be resolved before they become critical