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Why your manager should stop trying so hard

Pascale Witz, Executive Vice President of Global Divisions at SanofiPascale Witz, Executive Vice President of Global Divisions at Sanofi
Pascale Witz, Executive Vice President of Global Divisions at Sanofi© Céline Clanet

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.

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