Have you ever thought that you would like to change career, or be more successful within your current company? I bet you write yourself off because you think you don’t have the skills to step up to the next challenge… Let me tell you a little bit about me and it may just help you.
I sometimes wonder how I went from being completely unemployable to becoming a business owner? How was it that in 2006 I was unemployable and had no qualifications and by 2015 I was educated to the equivalent of a degree and managed a team of 40 within the local authority? How did I go from spending 8 years of my life in Prison to then sitting in boardrooms strategically planning with PHD’s and doctorates within local authority and Public Health?
Transferable skills that is how. We all have them but many of you do not understand how you can use these within the next stages of your lives. Within this blog I am going to share a few with you so you can see how I used them to develop and grow as a leader.
Leadership and management
I have an NVQ 5 in leadership and Management and what I now realise is that I was always a leader and also had the natural communication skills that support great leadership. When I was young I was a rascal and was always in trouble within the children’s homes I lived in. I remember getting moved out of a home because the staff said I led the other kids astray. Now that is a negative… or is it? Let’s look at that again “I led the other kids astray” now what I see is that I’ve always had the natural ability to lead, Unfortunately it was leading them the wrong way. My natural skill was not recognised so my way of leading continued as a negative until I started my journey of change in 2006.
So, what else do we need to become successful leaders?
Communication and negotiation are two of the cornerstones of leadership (in my humble view). Now let’s see when in my life did I have to be an effective communicator and negotiate?
(There will be some of you reading that spent time in care or prison so will understand what I will write next).
Within the care and prison system there is a culture of them and us and to survive you need to stick with your peers. Your peers will not want to see you sucking up to authority as they will label you as a grass or a wrongen (prison terms for someone who informs on others).
I had the ability in care and prison to be able to form strong relationships with both staff and peers. I used my negotiation skills to get what I needed from the staff, but I also did this in such a way that my peers did not see me as a threat. This was important as I was friends with some of the most dangerous people within the establishments I was resident in. So now let’s see how I transferred these into me becoming a successful leader.
When I started my career, like anyone I started on the “shop floor” and many on the shop floor dislike management. I knew early on that I wanted to progress, but I also wanted to maintain the relationships that id developed whilst on the shop floor.
I started to build strong relationships with my manager and seeking ways on how I could develop. They offered me the opportunity to create projects and I needed to get my peers on board to support. Now this was not easy as no one wants to do anything extra and they are definitely not going to be told what to do by someone who isn’t even a manager. So here I am mentally back in the care home or prison wing. I needed to get my needs met by the Managers (officers) but maintain my credibility with my peers.
So how did I do this?
As managers and leaders, we usually find ourselves managing three types of people.
- The team player (yes let’s do it)
- The whatever player (well if I have too)
- The resister (That is not my role so why do I have to do it?)
Type one you give acknowledgement both personally and publicly, this makes them even more engaged for the next project. Types 2 and 3 need the extra level of communication to get them on board. To do this I will be using a word that naturally has a negative connotation “Manipulation”. Manipulation/positive spin is a key part of managing. We also see this positive association of manipulation within parenting, come on admit it we have all done it.
I used this same strategy when in care and prison. Type one (simple conversation) Type two a deeper conversation explain why it would benefit them. Type three a carefully constructed conversation that makes them believe that the outcome will benefit them personally. I have to also say this is looking back with hindsight but looking back and reflecting helped me to hone my natural skills and abilities.
Transferring these skills into my life today has taken me from the shop floor, to a team leader, Operations Manager, Service Manager, leadership Coach and Professional Speaker and Trainer. Not bad for someone who spent 8 years behind a Prison wall…
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