It’s always stressful when a supervisor that you have worked well with resigns. Will the next person “get” you the way this one did? Will you have the same synergy? Will they understand and support you?
It’s high stakes. Because having a supervisor that doesn’t support, understand and “get” you can turn an awesome job into a terrible one.
I’ve faced this situation numerous times in my career. And on those occasions when things turn out well, it’s such a relief. But regardless of whether the experience is positive or negative, I’ve learned a lot from watching these folks step into a new leadership role. There’s the standard stuff about taking your time to learn about the system before making any radical changes or about the importance of getting to know everyone as a person and what their role is all about. But one supervisor I had really stands out to me.
He was great. Immediately, we connected. He was always interested in my opinion on things, and seemed to really value what I said. He made me feel smart. He often told me that he had learned a lot from me. He really built my confidence, and inspired me. I would do anything for him. He made me feel special… kind of like the teacher’s pet.
I had a teacher back in elementary school that made me feel this way too. She used to give me secret gifts and cards with motivational messages. I never told any of the other kids, because I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad that she liked me best.
It was years before I figured her out. She did this for every one of her students.
And after a while, I noticed the same about this supervisor. He made everyone feel important and valued.
Our team became highly motivated and effective because under his leadership, all our basic needs were met. Obviously we felt belonging, because he made it clear that we were important to him. Our power need was met because he constantly gave us messages that the work we were doing was important and valued. He trusted us to make decisions and didn’t micromanage, fulfilling our freedom need. And because we all liked him and had a good relationship, we had fun. We did a lot of teasing and laughing together.
So often when someone enters a position of authority, it seems that their main concern is to demonstrate that they have the skills and talent to be the boss. They feel the need to prove themselves.
How ironic that it’s actually when you shift the focus off of yourself and instead appreciate others that you become an awesome leader.
No matter what our job, all of us at some point find ourselves in a higher position in the hierarchy. Think about how you interact with parents, the support staff, or the custodial staff. And no matter what your position, we are always in a position of power with our students.
In these situations, do find that you more concerned with people recognizing your talents, or do you make a point of recognizing theirs?