MPW Insider is one of several online communities where the biggest names in business answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? is written by Pascale Witz, Executive Vice President of Global Divisions at Sanofi.
Throughout my 25-plus year career in healthcare, managing and mentoring others has been one of the most rewarding and important aspects of my work. Below is my best advice for any new leader:
Personalize your position
In my experience, understanding the vision and values of the organization you work for is integral to staying inspired and feeling purposeful at work, no matter what your job is. As a first-time manager, it’s critical that you take time to reflect on your company’s vision and values, and find a way to make them personally meaningful – whether you know it or not, your new position can elevate you as a role model to the people around you.
Stop trying so hard
Many new managers also take on the responsibility of motivating their colleagues, including setting clear goals and recognizing team achievements. Some people would also say that managers should behave a certain way, or embody certain “best in class” traits, such as a dedicated work ethic or strong leadership. But in my opinion, the best way to motivate others is to do so by staying true to yourself. In other words, don’t try to create a personality that reflects what you think a “perfect” manager should be.
I have seen many first-time managers quick to fail when trying to embody the traits that they think are commensurate with their new leading roles. For instance, pretending to know all the answers, or not taking the advice of their team because they don’t want to seem inexperienced, undecided, or too young. Instead, take the time to listen to your colleagues, ask questions, and take notes. Gain their trust and they will want to follow you. Not every day will be perfect, but I believe staying true to yourself will definitely help you be successful in the long run.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
What 20 years in leadership has taught me by Debbie Messemer, Managing Partner at KPMG San Francisco.
Why the best leaders aren’t afraid to make mistakes by Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.
One quality all young female leaders should have by Sandi Peterson, Group Worldwide Chairman at Johnson & Johnson.
5 tips for women looking to move up the corporate ladder by Cheryl Cook, Channel Chief at Dell.
What it means to join the c-suite by Colette LaForce, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at AMD.
Why ‘knowing it all’ won’t help you at work by Adena Friedman, President of Nasdaq.
Why you should be more friendly at work by Mary Civiello, President of Civiello Communications Group.
4 reasons to ditch the ‘corporate mold’ by Kathy Collins, Chief Marketing Officer, H&R Block.
10 tips for survival when you’re the new boss by Debby Hopkins, Chief Innovation Officer at Citi.
Why every new leader should take Lupita Nyong’o’s advice Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University.
Why I’m proud to be gay — at home and at work by Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at Ernst & Young.
Why great doers don’t make great leaders by Liz Wiseman, President of Wiseman Group.
3 things you can learn from your worst boss by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President of Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership.
One CEO’s cheat sheet to the top by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
3 ways to think like a leader by Alyse Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership.
What the best bosses can learn from mountain ski guides by Susan Coelius Keplinger, President and COO of Triggit.
The one quality all leaders must have by China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work Institute.
3 lessons every new leader should know by Sally Blount, Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Barbara Bush: 4 tips for aspiring leaders by Barbara Bush, co-founder of Global Health Corps.