Recipe 8 : – Do not take yourself seriously

You have followed all my advice, and you’ve just been promoted to an executive manager’s position. First of all, congratulations. Or you haven’t been promoted yet and you aspire to become a manager someday. Either way, in this article, I’m going to give you the most valuable advice regarding job changes and promotions. It’s simple: don’t take yourself seriously!

We’ve all seen a former colleague get promoted and become someone else from one day to the next. 

What happened?

It’s simple, he started changing behavior to conform to his view of management.

Responsibilities don’t come alone and are usually bringing a lot of stress. We’ve dreamt of this position, and we’re happy to finally have the job, but did we really evaluate all the stress that comes with it?

Managers need to make decisions every day. They’re constantly trying to find a balance between management’s requirements on one hand, and their team’s competencies and work capacity on the other hand. They’re also aware that every decision they make can have a very important impact, which doesn’t help. The manager’s role is sometimes complex, but also quite lonely. We expect a lot from him, without really preparing him beforehand and giving him the help he needs. It seems obvious that if someone was competent in their previous job, to the extent that they got promoted, then they’ll automatically be successful in their manager’s position, right? (I just would like to point out that this sentence is clearly ironic…)

Thus, between the lack of preparation, the stress, the decisions to make, etc. it’s not a surprise that it’ll have an impact on the person’s mood. « So what? » you’ll say. We’re talking about a crucial step in my career, and you’re bothering me because I’m a little grumpy? Yes, I’m talking about it because the well-being of the manager is directly going to affect their team’s well-being. Being in a bad mood, especially on a daily basis, is definitely going to impact the relationship with the team. And with time, this could have consequences on the work to accomplish. A team that has a low morale is no longer productive, collaborators don’t share their opinions spontaneously anymore, problems are hidden, etc. So we go from a stressful situation to a crisis situation, which will generate even more stress. In other words, we’re facing a typical example of a vicious cycle.

Let’s now go back to my order of not taking yourself seriously. Everything is linked. The stress and responsibilities that result from the promotion make you adopt a « serious » posture. We’re so afraid of not being able to assert your authority that we don’t allow ourselves to make jokes or do anything that could tarnish our image.

Shortly before being promoted to my first big position, I followed an internal training. I met a lot of friendly people, and the formation ended on a night out, with lots of alcohol. The end of a training is often considered like a liberation. Thus, we were at the bar and were having fun… a lot of it. When I started the job, I quickly realized that one of my new N-2 was at this training session. We’d gotten along really well during that famous night out, and she’d shared with the team one or two photos of me, which weren’t too compromising, but also weren’t typically what you’d expect from your new boss. She was going around, saying « look at the new boss…she’s cool ».

At least it deterred me from hiding my lack lack of self-confidence with an irascible attitude which would’ve not been credible at all! And everything went smoothly, with joy and happiness!

Thinking that with authority comes serious behavior, or vice versa, is a terrible idea – in my opinion. Not only does the manager have to face new and complex situations every day, but if he also has to wear a mask on top of that, he would be incredibly miserable. 

The lack of experience is just a necessary step in the process of starting a new job. After a few months, you become more comfortable and start enjoying the position, and very quickly, the early days of sweaty hands and poor posture become nothing but a bad memory. With time, you acquire a deep understanding of different subjects and making decisions almost becomes easy.

But what about behavior? If you’ve been associated with a certain type of unnatural behavior in your new role as manager, it’s going to be difficult to change things. You won’t dare to change or do your mea-culpa, in fear of making it worse, and going back in time will be difficult.

So, save yourself the trouble, and just don’t take yourself seriously from day one!


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