It’s Not Me, It’s You

Ever been dumped before? What was the excuse? I’m willing to bet it was “It’s not you, it’s me.” So how can that phrase help those who are managing others for the first time in their lives? Just switch a couple of the words around, and let this be your philosophy: “It’s not me, it’s you.”

For so many of us, going all the way back to grade school, we have been constantly rewarded for the contributions we make as individuals. In fact, for many first-time managers, the reason they are managing in the first place is because they were so good at getting their individual jobs done, they got promoted into management. But with your first formalized leadership title, you no longer will be rewarded for your own work and technical skills and abilities. Instead, you will be rewarded for motivating and leading your team to get their work done. Simply put, from the perspective of first-time managers, in order to be successful, the spotlight must shift: It’s not me, it’s you.

This video will walk you through what it really means when someone makes the cognitive mind shift to “It’s not me, it’s you” and how that philosophy is crucial for competencies that are important for the success of first-time managers.  Yet for so many, these are competencies in which they are constantly under-performing:

  • Communication
  • Influence
  • Leading Team Achievement
  • Coaching and Developing Others (Mentoring)

Adopting the “It’s not me, it’s you” approach with these and other essential competencies will help first-time managers become successful at their new leadership position.

This is the first post of a series of blogs I will be posting every Tuesday this month on subjects that I hope will be helpful to first-time managers and others.  I want to hear your thoughts.  Comment on this and every Tuesday blog post in April 2013, and I’ll put your name in the hat to win an autographed copy of my guidebook, Developing Political Savvy!

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About Bill Gentry

William (Bill) is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and also an adjunct assistant professor at several colleges and universities. In applying his research into practice, Bill’s current focus is on helping leaders who are managing for the first time in their life. His research interests are in multisource (360) research, survey development and analysis, leadership and leadership development across cultures, leader character and integrity, mentoring, managerial derailment, multilevel measurement, and in the area of organizational politics and political skill in the workplace. He received a BA from Emory University and an MS and PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Georgia. Follow Bill on Twitter: Lead_Better
This entry was posted in Communication & Leadership Secrets, First Time Managers, Influence, Mentoring, Teams and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to It’s Not Me, It’s You

  1. avatar Jamie Lee says:

    This article was very helpful.
    I am just in such position where I was experiencing hardship at my new position, but wasn’t sure of the reason. Now I understand why I have been strugling.

    • Jamie,

      I am hoping this blog, and the first-time manager site, is a way where people can share their experiences and hardships, and how they made it as well. And hopefully you and others can learn from their own hardships. I hope that you can start to understand others, and that will help you along the way with your new position. It isn’t going to be easy, but if you can focus on the way others want to be motivated, influenced, and engaged in their work, the better off you will be. The more you can shine the spotlight on them, rather than on yourself, you in fact will be more successful. Good luck!

  2. avatar Michael H. Hoppe says:

    Bill,
    GOOD for you. Congratulations! It all makes sense. One small suggestion: “It’s not me, it’s you” within the context of being dumped confused me, since it seemed to suggest blame. So, it would have help me (as you later put it yourself, as you talk about it in your video), if you changed it to “It’s not about me, it’s about you.”
    Cheers,
    Michael

    • Michael,

      Thanks for the comment. “It’s not me, it’s you” is not about blame, it’s about focusing on other people. You have it right when you said “It’s not about me, it’s about you.” If leaders can focus on other people, and do things not for their own benefit, but have an outward focus on really helping others, and really trying to understand what motivates others and what makes others engaged in their work, I believe they will be more effective. Thanks for the insight, and I encourage you in your work with others, to emphasize that they can be effective if they focus on their people.

  3. avatar J.D. Meier says:

    > the spotlight must shift: It’s not me, it’s you.
    Well put.

    I think a useful metaphor is to flip the organizational pyramid upside down. It reminds everyone that the management supports the front-line doing the work. It reminds the management team to empower their people and to push decision-making authority to where the action is. With this model, it’s about inspiring people toward goals, and internalizing success.

    In the typical pyramid, it reinforces a top-down “command and control” environment, where some folks take their management authority to mean, you tell people what to do. This, in turn, takes away power from the front-line, and they learn to wait for instructions.

    • J.D. – I am glad you liked the “It’s not me, it’s you” mindshift. I also think your pyramid flip is a great metaphor as well. Delegating, empowering, being participative in nature, focuses the spotlight on “you” and away from “me.” When you do this, as you suggest, people do indeed feel inspired and feel that they matter. And that, more than money, is what most people come to work for – they want to feel like their work matters, and they themselves matter, and leaders need to do this. Thanks for the post!

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