10 Boss-Lady Secrets That Could Make You A Superstar

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Oh hey, congrats! Did you get a super-exciting new promotion in the new year? Amazing! Also, good luck. Especially if your thrilling new title comes with an employee or two who will report directly to you. Having a junior team member reporting into you is a big deal. But, it's not something many of our first (or second or third) jobs actually train us for.
So often, we prove that we're good at one thing (writing, coding, practicing medicine, analyzing legal briefs, structuring deals, graphic design...) and then as a reward, we get promoted to a job where we have to do something entirely different (managing people and being responsible for their growth and development — and making sure they are productive members of our companies and delivering results to their fullest potentials). And, let's be honest: Skills in design or writing code or, really, anything in that first category, just don't prepare you for management.
So, to arm you with a beginner's guide to management skills (which is not a replacement for management training, something you should totally take if anyone is offering), we spoke to Valerie Grillo, Chief Diversity Officer at American Express. A seasoned HR pro, she's in charge of diversity and inclusion — from recruitment to retention — across a team of 50,000 employees. And, in her spare time, she offers one-on-one coaching for senior leadership at the company. Meaning, she knows a few things about what it takes to be a good manager (or a bad one).
Up ahead, Grillo's 10-point checklist for leadership. Every first-time boss (and maybe some seasoned managers, too): You'll want to print this one out.
1. "Own it. You were selected for this responsibility, so be confident that you've got the skills to do it right."
2. "On the flip side, be sure to balance that confidence with humility and approachability. Encourage an open-door policy that lets your team know you're always there."
3. "Turn your vision into action. It can't just be pretty words on a piece of paper — let everyone know where you want them to go and how they can get there."
4. "Help your direct reports set goals, and then give them the freedom to deliver. Tell them what to get done, not how to do it."
5. "Be yourself — there's truth in authenticity, so lead with perspective and find your own voice."
6. "Whenever possible, assemble a diverse team — not only in gender or ethnicity, but in ideas, experiences, and backgrounds. Consider your own strengths and weaknesses, and pursue team members that offer a wide range of [additional] skills."
7. "Always lead by example. Promote the type of behavior you hope to see from your direct reports."
8. "Offer real-time, candid, and encouraging feedback. It will help team members to grow (and can lessen the awkwardness when you may need to provide constructive criticism!)."
9. "Don't forget that you were once in your direct reports' shoes."
10. "Appreciate your team members not only as colleagues, but as individuals. Take the time to get to know their interests and passions, and you'll likely see the benefits."

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