The path to becoming a manager is not comfortable for some people yet these same people develop into exemplary leaders. At IMNZ we’re fascinated with their stories and what we can learn from them, and this week we talked to Jo McCarroll from NZ Gardener about how she stepped up as a leader and what moment made her most proud.

Being a leader didn’t come with the recognition, glory and corner office she expected, says Jo McCarroll, editor of New Zealand Gardener magazine, it came with much more. “I didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy being part of someone else’s success,” she says. “How thrilling it was to see someone achieve something that they didn’t originally think they might achieve, and knowing that I played a role in that.”While McCarroll adds that while she thought others were destined for greatness, she’d never felt like a natural leader.

But she soon realised that leadership can be learned. “You learn the skills as you go, from the people you work with, from training you receive,” says McCarroll. She adds that for people thinking about stepping up into management to let go of fear, because “you could learn those skills the same way you’ve learned every other thing you do in your work.” As a new manager, McCarroll had to challenge her own beliefs, adding that today’s Jo Carroll would tell her younger self to worry less.

“I remember lying awake at night thinking I didn’t know what I was doing and I’m faking it and everybody knows,” she says. “But you don’t need to worry because you learn through training, and you learn through experience. So you have to be patient with yourself.”

Although, she adds with a smile, there was an unforgettable moment early on in her management career that exemplified her “made it” moment as a leader. “I was giving one of my team a performance review, and at the end I said ‘Do you have any feedback for me?’ and she said ‘Yeah, you’ve come a really long way, Jo’,” beams McCarroll. “And I was really proud because I was trying so hard to be a better manager of people, and I was just thrilled to have it acknowledged.” Although initially, McCarroll didn’t expect that being a manager of people was actually all about people.

 

 

Being a leader didn’t come with the recognition, glory and corner office she expected, says Jo McCarroll, editor of New Zealand Gardener magazine, it came with much more.  “I didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy being part of someone else’s success,” she says. “How thrilling it was to see someone achieve something that they didn’t originally think they might achieve, and knowing that I played a role in that.” While McCarroll adds that while she thought others were destined for greatness, she’d never felt like a natural leader. But she soon realised that leadership can be learned.  “You learn the skills as you go, from the people you work with, from training you receive,” says McCarroll.

 

She adds that for people thinking about stepping up into management to let go of fear, because “you could learn those skills the same way you’ve learned every other thing you do in your work.” As a new manager, McCarroll had to challenge her own beliefs, adding that today’s Jo Carroll would tell her younger self to worry less. “I remember lying awake at night thinking I didn’t know what I was doing and I’m faking it and everybody knows,” she says. “But you don’t need to worry because you learn through training, and you learn through experience. So you have to be patient with yourself.”

 

Although, she adds with a smile, there was an unforgettable moment early on in her management career that exemplified her “made it” moment as a leader. “I was giving one of my team a performance review, and at the end I said ‘Do you have any feedback for me?’ and she said ‘Yeah, you’ve come a really long way, Jo’,” beams McCarroll.  “And I was really proud because I was trying so hard to be a better manager of people, and I was just thrilled to have it acknowledged.”

 

Although initially, McCarroll didn’t expect that being a manager of people was actually all about people. “I remember doing management training and the woman was talking about people’s different personalities and how to work with people who were different to you, and how to adjust your management style. “I said ‘Why do I have to adjust? Why can’t they adjust to me? I’m finally in charge’,” McCarroll adds with a twinkle. “And she said: ‘Well, you’re the leader, and that means you need to stretch to what the people around you need to do their best work. And if you’re not prepared to do that, why did you put your hand up to lead this team?’”

 

Not overloading herself was another trap McCarroll narrowly avoided. “When your job is managing people to do the job you used to do, and people say here’s what we want to achieve, and you put your hand up and say ‘I’ll do that; I’ll help’ you need to address that tendency. You need to start saying ‘I’ll put you in touch with someone who can do an amazing job. And if there’s a skills gap there, I’ll work with that person to make sure they have the skills they need’,” she says.

 

She also says that being manager doesn’t automatically make you superhuman, and keeping perspective is key.

 

 

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