People aspire for professional growth as a sign of success and a witness for competence. Promotions are often viewed as the standard milestones of career progress. Nonetheless, being a manager poses a huge challenge, as you shift from being responsible only for your own work to that of an entire team. The responsibility extends to keeping your team motivated and fulfilled while maintaining order and ensuring effectiveness.
As part of Egypt Oil & Gas contentious support to young professionals in the petroleum sector, we asked some of the market’s brightest minds to share their advice on the most common mistakes to avoid as a rising leader.
Amira El Mazni
Former Vice Chairman for Regulatory Affairs – EGAS
Learning does not come only from courses and work experience. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, challenge you, make you better, and are always willing to achieve results and successes. Listen to others, open your mind to diverse perspectives, ideas, and possible solutions to current or future challenges. If you can, pick yourself mentors throughout your professional career, to ensure your constant learning process.
Be a Manager Not a Leader
Rather than telling people what to do, give them the resources, support, and guidance they need, and allow them an opportunity to grow. Trust them to do their job. Find the potential in your people, help them develop their strengths, and give them opportunities to grow. Leaders do not create more followers, but rather more leaders. Walk the talk and lead by personal example of integrity and hard work.
Spend Time with People Who Stress You Out
Be with those who bring out the best in you, and give you positive energy. You need to work hard and smart, be persistent, diligent, dedicated, humble, and honest. Forget the mistakes and remember only the lessons. Even if you fail, for failure is part of success.
Allow Office Politics to Thrive
Office politics make the best people the first to quit. Politics can intoxicate the work environment, ruin the teams’ spirit, lead to unfairness and favoritism. Do not be the bad boss that people leave. Leaders should value hard work and commitment.
Confine Yourself to Your Comfort Zone
Business is forever changing, and the oil and gas sector is no exception, with digitalization, energy transition, and modernization. So be receptive to change, for change is the only constant in life. Comfort is the enemy of achievement.
Managing Director – SAP Egypt
Compromise During the Hiring Process
You are as strong as your team, hence the importance of the hiring process. Hiring requires significant investments in terms of time, due diligence, assessment of cultural fitness with the rest of the team, and the validation of the candidate skillset. Your personal success would depend on the success of your team.
Create an Environment of Fear
As a leader, you always need to find ways to motivate and inspire your team members based on their respective interests. You need to create an environment of trust, creativity, openness, and positive energy. Avoid an environment of uncertainty or fear. One person with negative energy could have a multiplier effect on the rest of the team.
Micromanagement can completely kill creativity. Give your team enough space to create their own ideas and plans, and guide them when they need help. It is good to fail sometimes. This is how all of us learn. However, when you fail, you must rise again and learn from the failure.
Take Credit for Others’ Work
Your success is that of each and every member of your team. Give credit to those who deserve it and always celebrate the success of your team. Never take credit for the work of someone else.
Hide Behind Other Managers in Tough Times
There will be times when tough decisions have to be made. If you are convinced by your decisions, then you should stand by them. If you are not, then say so and never hide behind other senior managers as it will eventually kill your credibility and power within the organization.
Mohamed Fathy Tash
Energy Conservation Assistant Manager – GASCO
Be a Classic Manager
Many managers fall in the trap of seeking authority as a first priority. Authority is sometimes necessary to maintain adherence to the system, but it is not the only factor that can keep the system alive and active. Long-term relationships and rather focusing on empowering team members can have astonishing results.
Be a Bad Listener
Listening does not mean staying quiet while the other one is speaking, but genuine listening means encouraging the other to speak freely and express different opinions other than your own. This could help you learn. The only way for boosting talent is lifelong learning, and developing a positive culture based on shared values.
Have an Unclear Vision
Beware and avoid having an unclear message with no clear purpose, and no clear goal. This could hinder the team’s motivation and negatively affect the performance and business result. Most importantly, focus on a message of inclusion rather than exclusion.
Do Not Recognize Team Efforts
Even the smallest effort exerted by team members must be appreciated, as appreciating these small efforts today could lead to big achievements tomorrow. The managers must determine the appropriate rewards to recognize the efforts of their teams. Failure to identify a suitable reward could negatively impact the attitude of team members.
Do Not balance between Supervision and Autonomy
The two are essential for success, without supervision, chaos is the most probable result, without autonomy, there is no space for innovation. The balance could be achieved when the manager focuses on the big picture, coordinate efforts, and communication while leaving space for the team members to manage the details.
Mohamed El Habbal
Asset Integrity Management Program Manager – Enppi
Mistake Authority with Influence
Many new managers try to show their team that “I am the Boss,” and this could even lead them to take wrong decisions, without thorough understanding and consideration, just to prove that they are confident. Make sure to build solid relationships with your business partners and peers.
Do Not Understand your Company’s vision
It is dangerous not to fully grasp the business objectives of your company, the targets of your department, and how do they align together. Take your time to understand, analyze and make the right decision at the right time.
Do Not Build Trust and Transparency
Managers should listen carefully to their subordinates, and build a supportive environment within their teams. This is achieved by carefully to their say and building strong relationships with them. Trust is also never built when there is an unfair distribution of incentives, whether they are tangible or intangible. A manager is trusted when they master their tools and gain the appropriate level of self-confidence.
Fail To Be the Manager You Wished to Have
New managers should learn from the mistakes of their own managers to develop and build on their experience. They can think how they hoped their managers who led the teams they were part of at the beginning of your career would act to have a clue of what could be an effective managerial style.
Do Not Walk the Talk
Some managers do not trust their subordinates and this leads to them resorting to micromanagement, killing motivation and dedication. Although managers should lead by example, sometimes a distortion in vision and objectives sends confusing messages.