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You’ve earned your degree and you’re ready to take on the world.
Perhaps you were a leader in many aspects of your academic life; president of your fraternity or sorority, captain of your high school football team or head cheerleader.
You know yourself to be someone who succeeds and who others like to follow.
Or maybe you didn’t devote your time to extracurricular activities in school but invested yourself in your education and to be the best in your new profession.
Like most students who are achievers, your post-college plan may well include joining the ranks of management.
While it’s okay to have this as your goal, you need to understand what it takes to get there. Plans are one thing, achieving them another.
To become a successful leader you need to understand how and why teams work well and what makes teams falter; to break into management and become a successful leader, you first have to become a successful team player.
Companies are in the business of generating continuous revenue streams. Usually the bigger the revenue stream the more complexities involved in maintaining and growing that revenue stream.
At the same time, greater complexity invariably requires more and bigger teams to solve those complexities and the members of these teams have to work together harmoniously for greatest productivity. Translation: if you are going to succeed in the professional world, you have to get along with others, and you will need to be consistently able to put the good of the team before your personal preferences.
Practically speaking, this means that you must work efficiently and respectfully with other people who have totally different responsibilities, backgrounds, objectives, and areas of expertise.
It’s true that individual initiative is important, but as a professional much of the really important work you do will be done as a member of a group. Your long-term stability and success require that you learn the arts of cooperation, team-based decision-making, and team communication.
This is especially important if you dream of climbing the corporate ranks into a leadership position or of having your own business one day, because before you can lead, you first have to learn how to follow. So understanding the dynamics of productively functioning teams and how you, as an individual, contribute to that productivity will ease your upward climb in numerous ways.
The Key is Teamwork
Teamwork demands that a commitment to the team and its success comes first. This means you take on a task because it needs to be done, not because it makes you look good.
As a team player you:
- Always cooperate.
- Always make decisions based on team goals.
- Always keep team members informed.
- Always keep commitments.
- Always share credit, never blame.
If you become a successful leader in your professional life, it’s a given that you were first a reliable team player, because a leader must understand the dynamics of teamwork before she can leverage them. When teamwork is coupled with the other transferable skills and professional values, it results in greater responsibility and promotions.
Leader = Team Player
So will the leadership qualities you developed in school affect your ability to become a manager? Absolutely. But give it time and gain some experience. You will emerge a much better qualified manager and stronger, more effective leader.