Identity Crisis

Since the day the bomb dropped on me exactly one month ago, I, who was always sure of who I am, am not so sure anymore.

After much prayer and affirmation, I decided to take up the challenge despite the emphasis that promotion is not guaranteed. Afterall I would rather claim the prize tried and tested.

Since then, I’ve had to put myself out a bit more and try to interact and get to know my new reports better. As this was a new portfolio, the first thing I did was to start attending all the various talks and events organised by the team.

I sat at the back to have a better glimpse of how members perceive our speakers and content. I took down many notes and areas of improvement.

Then they started scheduling me for meetings with various partners to discuss ongoing and new education plans and initiatives. I listened, observed nuances and took down even more notes and suggestions.

I tried to throw out a few ideas and suggestions and found out that it wasn’t well received. I guess they must have felt that I, still an outsider, am treading into their territory uninvited, once again.

My boss told me that my first assignment should be to determine my brand of leadership/management rather than intervene in their work.

So since then I’ve been trying to decide on my personal brand of management and the more I try to figure this out, the less I know about myself. I think the reason is because I am searching within the deep recesses of my experience and I don’t have one called ‘manager’ within it.

Which means essentially that I am charting a whole new world. So who on earth am I? After so many years of soul searching, I am amazed that I cannot answer this question.

My most intuitive response would be – I would establish myself as a thinking manager. I will analyse, ideate (create + ideas) and become a knowledge center because that’s who I am and what I like to do.

But is that the kind of manager my reports would want to have? It then dawned on me that as an officer, my job was simply to come up with ideas/suggestions, get approval and then execute it.

But as a supervisor, the role is no longer about getting the job done. It is about making a conscious effort to sway between two polarising thoughts and finding the optimum stance that fits that very point of time. What on earth am I talking about?

For example, I am quite extreme when it comes to exploring new frontiers even at work. I see potential connections and I immediately want to join them. That’s a wonderful gift God has given me.

But I realised that in my new role, the more I try to impose/share my ideas to the team, the less effective a manager I become. Why? Because my job is not about getting the job done… it is about helping my reports to get their job done.

And my continual brainy intervention is only limiting their ability to flourish independently – like a plant sheltered under the shadow of a huge object.

Does that mean I stop becoming who I am? I was torn for a very long time over this. How is it that in my pseudo promotion, I have to sacrifice who I am? Then it dawned on me, my creative energies should no longer be directed at my reports’ work but at my reports themselves!

Coincidentally, during this transition period, I found out that the department itself is in a process of a major restructuring. While the rest of the sups fretted over this new org chart, I was the only one who saw the lightbulb. I think God’s timing is amazing. He probably placed me in this position for a time such as this.

And now that I look at it, with the authority given to me to realign the org chart that best fits our organisation goals, I am inadvertently determining the ‘fate’ of 25 people! And here I was fretting over why my report didn’t want to adopt my ideas…

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