A true leader doesn’t need to strut

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Britta Boelrijk

After holding a managerial position for only a year, I was both surprised and honoured to be named Manager for November and December at the bank. It’s always nice when your passion and hard work are acknowledged and appreciated. And that’s exactly what being a manager is to me – a profession in its own right, and one in which I hope to excel.

I vowed I’d never be the kind of manager who takes credit for all his team’s hard work Britta Boelrijk Abdenasser Ouled-Radi Head of Vendor Control & Business Management

It was exciting, and a little nerve-racking, when I started out as Head of Vendor Control & Business Management not so long ago. The thing is, I’d been a member of the team myself for two years before being promoted to manager. Obviously, that meant my relationship with the other members I’d worked alongside for so long was suddenly very different. And it felt strange at first. I decided the best way to clear the tension was to talk to all of them one-to-one and ask them specifically how they felt about me being their manager. Fortunately, they were all very positive and on board with the change, and I took that as a sign that I should definitely press on.

Credit where credit is due

Vendor Control & Business Management provides support in all matters relating to IT International vendor contracts. One of our activities involves making sure project managers adhere to the terms and conditions set out in the contracts we have with our suppliers. Although I was surprised to be asked to head up the department, I did have certain ideas about what kind of a manager I wanted to be, or rather didn’t want to be. I vowed I’d never take credit for all my team’s hard work. My motto is “credit where credit is due”. If staff have done a good job, I feel it’s important to compliment them in front of their peers. Or if one of them has just finished a major project, I think they should personally present it to the MT. It’s not my place to do that. The person who did all the work should take credit for it.

Building trust

When I started out as a manager, I quickly realised that we needed to work on improving mutual trust in the department. Staff weren’t exactly eager to help one another, and few felt comfortable giving feedback. So I started treating everyone exactly as I wanted to be treated myself – with openness and trust. Our cultural principle of “building trust” is so important. When you put your trust in people, my experience is that they repay it tenfold. That’s why I have no problem at all with a member of staff needing to work from home every once in a while. Go for it. People often get more done from home than they do at the office anyway.

Getting it all off your chest during check-in

I value openness and always try to be an open book in my dealings with others. It’s great that the culture within our team is now such that we can be honest with one another if we’re having an off day, for example. It’s good to get things off your chest if you need to. An added benefit is that your colleagues know what’s up. Every Monday morning, we meet briefly during the joint start to the week for a so-called check-in. We have a coffee and talk about what’s on our minds. It certainly doesn’t always have to be bad, either – sometimes it’s just fun to tease a colleague because his favourite football team lost. It’s important we all get on, too. After all, there’s so much more to life than work. For me, family is a major priority, probably because of my Moroccan background. Is your mum ill? Go and be with her. Don’t worry about your work – we’ll figure something out.

Management is my passion

I’ve now decided I’d like to develop myself as a manager. In fact, it’s become something of a passion. When people are good at their jobs, they’re often promoted to a management role, only to discover that it’s not a good fit for them. Being a manager is a profession in its own right. You need to have a special talent to excel at it. I like to think that’s true in my particular case. In my free time, I play football. As a defender, I’m always coaching other players. But I definitely don’t want or need a captain’s armband. I’m not a dominating person who likes to boss other people about. Instead, I much prefer working with others to achieve the best result. A true leader doesn’t need to strut.

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