Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Developing a lieutenant, part of New Manager Fundamentals.
Every leader needs a great second in command, a lieutenant, a reliable collaborator and go-to person. It's important that this be an informal understanding not a formal position. Your lieutenant helps you deal with the fact that you can't be in two places at once. They actually fill several roles. Here are the most important ones. Your lieutenant can stand in for you when needed. As a leader, you'll learn that your most precious resource is time, because time is so limited, you cannot court every customer or attend every meeting.
Your lieutenant can help keep you in the loop by sitting in for you when needed, taking great notes and keeping you connected to a wider array of activities. Next, lieutenants are often great at initiating followership in tough situations. Sometimes when tough decisions have been made, it's difficult to mobilize support. Even if you've been transparent and collaborative with the team, they won't love every decision. However, once one person shows support, others are far more likely to follow. In this sense, the lieutenant can become a catalyst for decision support.
Lieutenants can also serve as a great conduit for feedback from the team. You might recall from an earlier video, our discussion of the status bubble, that odd interpersonal barrier that surrounds you simply because you've assumed a higher level position in the hierarchy. This information filtered deeply skews the timeliness and quality of the messages you receive. A good lieutenant can bridge that gap to provide you unfiltered feedback about how the team feels regarding the issues of the day. Another great role for the lieutenant is serving as your personal devil's advocate.
In an earlier video, we mentioned the devil's advocate, that person willing and able to speak up and question the direction of the group's work. Here, we're referring to someone willing and able to privately question your assumptions when needed. Grant your lieutenant this right and they will often increase the quality of your thinking. Finally, realize that your lieutenant may be a huge part of your personal succession plan. Believe it or not, one of the main reasons you might be overlooked for promotion is because you're great at what you do right now, and the leaders over you are not confident someone else can do as good a job as you have done.
Developing a strong lieutenant gives them an option to replace you when you receive a promotion. It is also important to note what a good lieutenant is not. A lieutenant is not a clone of you. You don't want someone with identical views and approaches to issues. While some overlap is inevitable, foster their growth as a unique professional. A lieutenant is also not a yes man. The yes man is that person who always without exception, seeks to affirm whatever the boss says and does.
A great lieutenant is an honest broker, not simply trying to gain your favor. Finally, a good lieutenant is not an enforcer. Sometimes leaders who don't like conflict will allow a team member to handle difficult work for them, such as monitoring people to ensure a new policy is being followed, not good. A lieutenant is only effective when viewed by others as a positive respected member of the team. You can identify your lieutenant by simply observing the more confident and competent members of the team, especially those with above average people skills.
You develop your lieutenant by using them as a sounding board to build their confidence, by offering them stretch roles to broaden their responsibilities, and by delegating to them a little work that is normally yours to complete. Leadership is a fun challenge, one that will fill your calendar to the limit. Don't try to do everything. Start developing a trusted lieutenant to assist you and you'll get more done while also developing the leadership pipeline for the future.
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- Clarifying performance expectations
- Feeding your learning curve
- Building rapport with your team
- Explaining your decision-making style
- Increasing your authenticity
- Communicating proactively
- Knowing when to have a meeting and who should attend
- Coping successfully with your transition<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.