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Lessons Learned from Managing & Leading a Team

I have been directly managing people now for 18 months, and whilst still a young leader learning the way, there are a few things I have observed so far about management and how to get the most out of my team.

I have been very fortunate to have had a few brilliant mentors in my life thus far, notably my Dad, my CEO & my first manager in headhunting. Without them, I would not have been able to progress at the pace I have in this industry. Through the lessons that I have learnt, there are methods and behaviours which I have tried to pay forward to those underneath me, who will hopefully do the same when they lead teams.

Each person is different

Perhaps the most important thing to get to grips with early, is that no two people are the same meaning a one size fits all approach will rarely work. Unless you hire the exact same type of person for each position in your team, a tailored management style is needed. With that said, if you do only hire the same type of person, then you are setting yourself up to be one-dimensional without any diversity of thought around you. The best teams in any given field have people in different roles and backgrounds, bringing their own skill sets and strengths, therefore it is important to know how each person ticks. Situational leadership is a skill where one adapts to different people and situations; for example, some people may need an arm over the shoulder and need a bit more handholding to begin with, whereas others require next to no management and can be left to spread their wings on their own. Both types of people can be highly successful, and it is about knowing how to guide each person to bring out their potential.

Leadership vs Management

There is a difference between leadership and management and a time for both. It is important to distinguish between the two, and even more important to be able to display both types of characteristics when required if you are looking to build great teams and businesses. There is nothing wrong with being an out-and-out manager or being somebody who does not directly manage anyone but is a recognised leader. Both are highly effective in organisations. At Mantell Associates, we have tried to ensure that all of the sales managers are being built into strong leaders who motivate people within the business and set an example for their teams to follow. Ultimately, true leaders inspire action. They are the people who influence, motivate, bring ideas and set direction. Conversely, managers are the glue who organise their teams, maintain due processes and control the group effectively to accomplish shared goals. Alternating between the two can be difficult, although anybody who can demonstrate flexibility and proficiency in both is a force to be reckoned with.

Everybody makes mistakes

Whether you are the intern or the CEO, everybody makes mistakes - nobody is perfect. No matter how experienced we are, we are always learning and improving. That is what life is all about, and exactly what makes us human. Even the most successful people still mess up from time to time. How you react to the situation, and how often it happens, is what counts. We learn through failure and working in headhunting brings many challenges or adverse situations when it comes to learning the ropes. Related to management, a manager should not scold anybody for making honest mistakes, whilst still reinforcing the importance of learning from that mistake and not letting it happen again. At the same time, a good leader is somebody who will hold their hands up, own their own blunders and take accountability for them in front of their team. Anybody in management who thinks they are perfect will not be respected by their peers. Honesty is the best policy and goes a long way in creating trust.

To summarise, management has been a great experience so far and I am still only at the beginning. It is certainly stressful at times, but also highly rewarding. There is no greater pleasure than seeing those around you develop their skills and grow as people, something we are passionate about at Mantell Associates.

Mantell Associates is a specialist Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Head-Hunting organisation. To find out how we can assist with your business requirements, contact Oliver Masson on +44 2038 547700 or