Arsenal FC's Anne-Lise Johnsen - my first year

My first year

A year ago tomorrow 1st March, I officially became a line manager. Scary. Exciting. A milestone.
I have always wanted to be a people manager. It's a selfish thing really as I thoroughly enjoy coaching and mentoring others. Watching someone grow. Be someone's ears when they have a dilemma. It's what gives me energy. 
Leadership isn't synonymous with line management. A great leader doesn't necessarily have a team. But for me personally it was a milestone. Throughout my career I have often been told that line management isn't what it's all cracked up to be. 
Going into it as newbie can be scary so I have outlined a few points I wish I knew.a year ago. For all you budding line managers, have a read;
Relinquish the detail 
I used to be across everything related to youth marketing at Arsenal - and a big challenge for me was letting go of the details. I struggled to trust others to do it and only flag with me when necessary. It had nothing to do with them not being capable; but more about me being a bit of a control freak. However after a bit of time and useful advice I changed my focus. I now focus on enabling others through being responsible and trusting them.
No Mini Me 
Subconsciously I started my time as a line manager with focusing on how I liked it when I was more junior rather than adjusting my leadership and managerial style to my team. Thankfully, I identified early on that I don’t want a Mini Me – but to coach and mentor someone to be the best they can be. It's about them, not me. 
Listen listen listen! 
I knew from day one how important listening would be; but I underestimated the little techniques that help you do this well. Listening is more than just using your ears;  
Leave your phone and emails behind. Focus on the person in front of you!
Body language; show energy and keep eye contact
Be there in person, with both your heart and head.Bring your understanding and experience.
Let them finish and never interrupt. Wait with your questions. You finishing their sentences isn't showing you care; it's annoying. 
Ask them how they are doing beyond work. Get to know them.

The little things matter 
Honour the little things. Whether that's a thank you for their hard work, celebrating anniversaries or highlighting their work in front of senior stakeholders. It's what they deserve.
The one thing I did from day one was being honest of what I expect. I have very high expectations of people. But I find communicating these with with just being human works. There are always new personalities to deal with and other challenges to take on - but I'm thankful that my first year has gone smoothly. A big shout out to Lizzie for celebrating her first year in her role; she is doing amazing. 
Remember, YOU can make an impact. The power of a line manager can work both ways; it can scare you for life or it can enable you to go forward. I hope to inspire others to be the best they can be; will you?

Anne-Lise Johnsen works at Arsenal FC and was The Marketing Society Young Marketing Leader of the Year 2016. This blog first appeared here.

Image: John Young |