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My boss is wet behind the ears

What do we do when our manager has less experience?
 

Ann says: At first, I was deeply offended and upset. I thought, “How could they do this to me? There’s no way this kid can be more qualified than I, regardless of how much education he has.” Then, as the weeks went by, the inexperience of my new boss was obvious. He was indecisive and overreacted to various situations; he didn’t understand the complete picture. Things kept getting worse. But instead of feeling vindicated, I actually started feeling bad for Kevin. He was intelligent and was honestly trying to do well, but he just didn’t have the experience. I kept wondering, “Do we tell management that Kevin just can’t cut it, or do we try to help him?”

The expert says: Do you have to be a boss to be a leader? Often we get caught up in the formal structure of companies and institutions, thinking that if we’re not formally in charge, we can’t be leaders. What is a leader? What is management? In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains the difference between the two. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” (Covey, p101) Kevin is smart, and he knows how to do things right, but lacks experience. Ann, on the other hand, knows what needs to be done. There is another dimension to leadership that is often overlooked: service. Christ told us that a leader is a servant. “... let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant” (Lk 22:26). So the fact that Ann knows what to do doesn’t necessarily mean that she is a leader. Only when she uses that knowledge in service will she truly become one.

Ann spoke with her teammates and convinced them that they needed to make Kevin successful because only then would the entire team do well. From that point forward, Ann and the rest of team mentored and worked with Kevin to make sure they were doing the right things correctly. Thus, they did very well as a team and built solid, lasting relationships.  

Lessons in leadership we can learn from Ann:

•  You don’t have to be a formal boss to lead others.

•  Use your knowledge to serve others rather than to advance selfish motives.

•  No one person may have all the qualities necessary to make an entire team successful. A true leader pulls the skills of everyone together.

•  A leader lets go of his/her ego and seeks the success of the team.