So you want to get paid for your ideas and not just your subject matter expertise, but…you’re just not sure how.
Good news! It’s actually super simple. All you need to do is start leading a team of people who are more knowledgeable than you.
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I’ll show you the essential tools you’ll need to master if you want to effectively lead a group of other phenomenal leaders.
I’ll also dive into how to create a plan that will help you be a better leader of your team, how to step into this higher level leadership role with confidence (hint: you don’t need to prove yourself!), plus super practical techniques on managing down to your team.
Whether you’re already leading a large team and want to step up your game, or you’re hoping to lead a team in the future and want to gather all the information and insights you can get, this episode is for you.
If you listen to this episode and think to yourself “I want to act like a senior executive now”, then my 6-week group coaching program is just the thing for you. I designed Executive Ahead of Time to help corporate leaders like YOU access the skills, confidence and unparalleled support you’ll need to reach a higher level executive position. Learn more at www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com.
What You'll Learn:
- The exact reasons why having a team that’s smarter than you is a good thing
- Why it’s absolutely critical for you to accept that you’ve earned the right to lead a team of leaders
- My best advice for the first 30 days of leading your team
- The questions you need to be asking your team when you step into that leadership role
- How to empower your team by treating them like the leaders they already are
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #57 – How to Stand Out as a Leader with Netflix’s Naphtali Bryant
- Join the waitlist for my 6-week group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And I am pumped to be here with you guys today.
As you heard from last week's episode, I have been doing a series of interviews with phenomenal black corporate leaders who have really challenged themselves to be more authentic at work, to really understand their leadership style, and this has led to tremendous success throughout their career. And they're sharing with you all of the tools and exactly what it took to become that authentic corporate leader. And I couldn't be more pleased to share that with you on my podcast.
So I'll be doing those interviews. You can go back and listen to the one from last week with Naphtali Bryant. He's a director of Learning and Development at Netflix. An absolutely extraordinary human being and gives so much amazing guidance and words of wisdom. And then next week, I'm going to be interviewing another coach, a colleague, friend of mine named Brig Johnson, and she is just 'wow'. An amazing, amazing, incredible woman. So you will get so much out of that podcast.
But even just recording these episodes and these interviews, I've just gotten really excited and pumped up and and just really focused on what is most important with my podcast, with my leadership, and the tools that I'm giving you all throughout this podcast.
So just as a reminder to you, if you're feeling less than inspired at work, if you're feeling like you're not sure what to do next, read something. Listen to something. Connect with something. Inspiration comes through sometimes outside forces, listening and feeling inspired. And when you are inspired by other people, which is an actual action, you go out and you get inspired by other people, you feel more inspired at work. You feel more inspired to create change. You feel more inspired to take the steps necessary to get yourself into a position of leadership so that you can really be making the impact that you want to be making and that you're ready to be making at work.
So that's my encouragement for today, because it's totally working for me and I'm really excited to share these interviews with you guys.
So in today's podcast episode, I'm actually going to be talking about something that has been coming up with several of my clients lately and I couldn't be more pleased with this outcome, which is that now they're getting promoted and they're getting recognized and they're taking on larger levels of responsibility and they're getting bigger teams.
So the questions that they're asking me, both in my 1:1 coaching and also my students of my Executive Ahead of Time group coaching intensive, they're asking questions about how do I lead a team of leaders. Which is what we all want to be able to do. We want to have influence at our organization, we want to be in higher levels of leadership, and often that means that you're leading some pretty phenomenal leaders. And they're starting to realize: 'Oh, I need to actually create a plan so that I can lead them better. So that I can be a better leader for my team.'
And so I've been giving them all of these tools and I realized: 'Oh, you know what? I bet a lot of my podcast listeners are either in that same position where they've been listening to this podcast, they've been applying what I'm teaching, and so now they're starting to get that recognition and they're asking themselves: 'Well, what do I do next? How do I continue to keep up this momentum in my role at work?'
Or maybe you're a person who aspires to be a leader of leaders and I think it's really helpful to know the tools ahead of time, of what it's going to take to actually lead those other senior executive leaders, which is going to start to give you that confidence that you're ready now to begin putting yourself out there, to raise your hand, to say: 'I'm ready for promotion, I'm ready to be in higher levels of leadership.'
So if you know what it is that you're supposed to do and and actually expect once you get there, it makes it a lot easier to go for it.
So I want to give you an example of one woman in particular. So her name is Laura and she is a senior director of business development. And she had a great deal of success during the last group of Executive Ahead of Time. So I asked her for permission to share her story with each one of you. And she gladly gave it.
So she said that she joined Executive Ahead of Time because she wanted to understand her future career path. She really wanted to start to own her career path. She admitted to being someone who dives all into her work and really focuses on the work in front of her and not necessarily on where she's headed. And you're probably someone like this too, because 80% of corporate leaders at that middle management or even lower executive level, admit to being so busy at work that they can't spend any focus on their professional development.
So this is a really common thing that people feel like they're just working. We're just we're just churning it out. We're putting all of our attention into our work because we're really good at what we do. And we want to make sure that we focus on that. And that that's the most important thing, is that we do a good job. And we forget about our future goals and where we're headed and how we can set ourselves up to be successful in the future. So this is super common. This is why I have this podcast. This is everything that I teach you here.
And so Laura joined the program because she wanted to get that clarity and understanding as to what it was that she really wanted to do next. She also wanted to get a better understanding of where she was now. So what were those skills? What was she missing? What was she lacking in terms of thinking and communicating like a senior executive leader? And she's she's been a senior executive leader for a while and in in various roles, in various situations. So she knew she was capable of it. But for where she is right now, she just was kind of getting in a place where she was just doing the work. She was just focusing on her work. So she wanted to broaden that out.
So in Executive Ahead of Time, we put together a career vision strategy. This is a document that I work with every single student in the program very extensively on to really understand what it is, is our our future path, where we're headed, where do we want to go, what our values are and our our values aligned with that future vision. And then what are the actual actions that we're going to take over the next three months to get there?
And so we worked on this document and I go through and I edit it with each of the students and I make sure that they have a clear plan. I think the biggest challenge is making sure that it's aligned, because a lot of people do a first draft and then I make some suggestions and they they see where, even in the document, they're creating their old patterns of just being focused on the work and what's next and 'how am I going to survive and how am I going to get that done?'
So Laura put together this career vision strategy. So she had the strategy. And then the other thing that she did is she actually sent me a picture and my heart just melted.
So she took the slides that were relevant to her from the program and taped it on to her wall. And I mean, this isn't all of the slides. It's just six to eight slides. And she wrote notes and she circled. And in my trainings, I always give you the actual words that you can start using to build trust. I actually tell you what it is that you need to start doing in order to manage your emotions. All of those skills. What does it look like to be out of the weeds? Not necessarily from a time management perspective, but from a from a communication standpoint. How are we communicating to senior executive leadership and to our team? And this is the 'and to our team' is actually where this episode is going to take us.
So I talk a lot about how you're managing up, how you're communicating up. But I want to start in this episode, just really focus on how you're managing down and how we can start to apply those techniques down. How we're thinking about our team.
Now back to Laura and her story. So she's put these these different slides up on her above her desk and she has been given an opportunity, possibly it's not confirmed yet at the time of recording this podcast episode, to take on a project where she's going to be able to lead a much larger team. Where she's going to be able to lead a team of other leaders, people who are, on paper, a heck of a lot smarter than she is in terms of the details. In terms of their subject matter expertise. But she has the leadership capability to lead them. So you see where we're going. This is your vision as well.
You're going to have people underneath you that know more about their subject matter expertise than you do. And that's a good thing. Because it's going to keep you out of the weeds. Because you can never learn as much as they know through 20 years of experience and whatever their field of study is. And so you are going to be able to focus more on your leadership.
And so that's how she's starting to feel as she contemplates this shift and if it's even a possibility. So she says: 'I want to be ready to say yes to this role if it is presented to me.' That is becoming the Executive Ahead of Time. That is exactly what it takes to put yourself into a position where everybody around you says: 'Oh my goodness, this is a no brainer. Of course Laura is ready for this job.' So you have to start anticipating what it's going to be like to lead a team of people who are essentially smarter than you.
So now I want to get into how we're going to do that. So Laura is not the only one of my clients who has this opportunity laid out in front of them.
And the first thing that I want you to remember as you contemplate leading other leaders, as you contemplate leading people who are essentially smarter than you, leading people who have a stronger depth of knowledge in whatever that subject matter is, is that you deserve to be there. You have been given this position, this title, and you have earned it. And this should not be taken lightly, because up until this point of your career, and now I'm moving off of Laura's story and just into general advice for everyone who is listening, is up until this point in your career, you have relied on your subject matter expertise to get ahead. So as you start to move into higher levels of leadership, because you have been applying these techniques and you start to trust in yourself on a more strategic, visionary level, you have to trust that you're capable of doing that role. That you're capable of leading other people when you don't have that breadth of knowledge, when you don't know every single detail. And that is another reason why it's so important to become the Executive Ahead of Time, to really understand that you are ready. So we start to test that out now before you even become the leader of leaders. We start to question that: 'Can I lead people who who technically have more knowledge than me?' The answer is yes. I see it. I know you can. And I can teach you how to do that, but you have to believe it in yourself.
So the first thing I want you to do is start to own that you belong there. And the other reason why this is so important that you own that you belong in that leadership position, where you belong in that place where you can lead other leaders, is because if you don't believe it, you will be trying to prove yourself and it won't work – it will never work. You're going to be scrambling to point out problems, to justify your actions, to overcomplicate things. And now I'm talking about more from a managing up perspective, but you might even be doing it to your team. You might feel like: 'I have to have it all together. I can't show them that I don't have the whole vision, that I don't have all the mapped out details. I mean, at the very least, I have to show them and prove to them that I'm a great leader, that I have ideas, that I know exactly what I'm doing right.'.
And even as I'm saying those words, I feel very kind of manic, like kind of frantic. And this might be coming up for you. If you feel like, at the end of a workday, that you feel a little manic and frantic, it might be because you're trying to prove yourself all day. You're trying to prove your self-worth. You're trying to prove yourself to others, but also you're trying to prove yourself to yourself that you can do this job.
So I want you to do all that work ahead of time. Understand that you deserve to be there. That you deserve the position that you have, this higher level executive position. You deserve to be in that position. Not from a righteousness standpoint, but because you are a phenomenal leader and that you have the capability to lead at a senior executive level.
So once you start to believe that you deserve to be there, that: 'OK, I can do this. Maybe I've never done it before. Maybe I've never let other leaders. Maybe I've never had a position where I know less than my team right now. Maybe I've never done that.' That's OK that you've never done it. There's lots of things that you've never done before in your life that you were able to figure out. But I just want you to be solving for the right problem.
So if you're scrambling to prove your selfworth, if you're scrambling to show 'I belong here', you're not going to be able to solve for the right problem.
Now, let's say you buy into the fact that you belong there, that you are worthy of this position, that it matters to have you in the senior executive position, that all of the people on the team who are technically smarter than you are like: 'Thank goodness that you are my leader. I am so grateful that you are leading us on this journey because you are a brilliant, amazing leader.' Let's just say that that's what they're all saying. And if they're not saying that, they're just not saying anything right. It doesn't matter. They believe that you belong in that position. So let's just assume that that's a great thing to assume.
And then what we're going to do is we're going to start to say: 'OK, how do I want to create this relationship with them out of the gate?' So the first 30 days.
Now in terms of managing up, what I always recommend for people in the first 30 days is to ask questions, to be curious of leadership, to schedule meetings, to understand, to ask them what's been working, what hasn't been working.
So we're going to apply all of that to our team. So if you belong there, you're going to show up curious. You're not going to show up in those first 30 days with a mapped out plan. Because you don't have to prove yourself. You were there to actually solve the problem, and the way that we can actually solve problems is to understand what the real problem is. Not solving the problem from our ego, not solving the problem because we're the smartest person and we have all the answers, but because we're willing to be curious and we're willing to have conversations and we're willing to figure out the solutions. We're willing to have conversations with people.
So my biggest advice is in those first 30 days that you schedule meetings with your direct reports, so the actual people who report to you, which is going to be a lower number of leaders, write a smaller number of leaders, not the people who work for them, but just your immediate direct reports, from a place of curiosity. You're going to have regular 1:1s with them where you talk about what you're working on and all of that stuff. But these are separate meetings. These are meetings that you're going to have to create a partnership with your leaders. And the way that we're going to create that partnership is telling them about us, not from a place of trying to prove ourselves, but to just be open. This is where I came from. This is what I'm working on. This is what I'm excited about in this role. And then you're going to ask the same questions. What's your background? Where did you come from? What did you think about your last boss? What are some of the things that didn't go well in the last year? And what are some of the things that you wish would go better?
So you're just having an open conversation with them. It's kind of like a networking conversation. But the goal is to create that partnership.
The other thing that you're doing with your leaders is you're treating them like a leader. You're letting them know: 'I can't do my job without you.' When you empower people from that place, it says: 'Look, I know you were hired because you are the smartest person in the room, because you are the person who knows way more about this than me. And I'm going to trust you to tell me when you see something wrong. I'm going to trust you to share your ideas. I'm going to trust you to speak up.'.
So you're treating this leader that's underneath you as a leader. And this is a really great piece of advice because I know many of you guys get promoted above people who used to be your peers, and that could feel super challenging to you. But I say: let's talk about the elephant in the room. Let's go into the conversation and say: 'Look, we're both really valuable leaders at this organization, so I'm going to trust that you partner with me.'
When you start with that attitude, when you start with that trust, then they will start stepping up to the plate. They will start bringing up issues. They will start coming to you first. This is the trust and the guidance that we're setting up right out of the gate.
So can you see how, if you go into your first 30 days with this new team of leaders with this attitude that I belong here and that we are partners and I don't have to prove myself to you, all I need to do is show up, be curious, ask good questions.
Then you're going to take those answers to those questions and start formulating your actions from that place. How are we going to move forward? What is the plan that I'm going to create for the next 60 days? For the next 90 days? Executive leaders go slow, right? They go slow and fast. They go slow in the right areas and then they make decisions quickly. But the only reason they're able to make quick decisions is because they have done their homework ahead of time. They have gathered that information. They know what's actually on the table. They're not just sort of throwing out ideas out there.
So that's what I want you guys to start doing. I want you to think about where you're headed. To say: 'OK, if I do get promoted, yes, I feel a little bit of fear that I'm going to be leading a team of other leaders. But I'm also super excited about that opportunity, because for years I've been wanting to get paid for my ideas and not just my subject matter expertise.' And the fastest way to get you there is to start leading people who know more than you do.
So this is our goal, to get you in that position. And now you know exactly what you're going to have to do once you get there. Now is the time. Now is the time for you to start stepping in to your senior executive leadership. Now is the time for you to start partnering with all of the people at your organization and stop trying to prove your self-worth. Now is the time for you to create a plan, a plan for the first 30 days of your new role, a plan for your next promotion. Whatever that is, you are going to start to create a pathway so that you can be making forward progress instead of staying exactly where you are today.
You have the ability to be in a senior executive leadership position. I have the tools to help you get into a senior executive leadership position. Now, together as partners, I am going to help you and you are going to help yourself get you into a senior executive leadership position. And I couldn't be more thrilled about this opportunity.
Thank you so much for being here. And I'll see you next week.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.