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This article was published on March 2, 2021


Your leadership style needs a user manual — here’s how you do it

Start off on the right foot with your team

Your leadership style needs a user manual — here’s how you do it
Wytze De Haan
Story by

Wytze De Haan

Founder, The Hatchet

Wytze writes weekly career advice for employees of fast-growing startups and scale-ups on topics like how to negotiate a better salary, conv Wytze writes weekly career advice for employees of fast-growing startups and scale-ups on topics like how to negotiate a better salary, convincing clients to work with you, or how to be a great manager for your team. Prior to founding the Hatchet, he spent 9 years working as Director of Events for TNW.

A few years ago I read an article that advocated for managers to create their own user manual to share with their new team or co-workers.

It struck me as a great idea given how much time we spend trying to figure each other out when we work together for the first time. The manual would provide a more explicit description of your character, personal values, and how you like to work with other people. The idea would be for you to share it with when you start working with new team members to help shorten the learning curve of having to decipher ‘you.’

I reviewed several user manuals I found online and assembled the best ideas into a user manual about myself. I created two versions: a text-based one below and a more visual slide deck that you can download the keynote or PDF file for here.

Please feel free to copy my structure to create your own personalized manual.

If you need help deciding which personality traits to list in your manual, consider doing an online DISC-like test to get some input. I asked my network to share their preferred suggestions and, in order of votes, these were the top 5 recommended:

But without further ado, here’s what my leadership manual looks like. Hopefully, it’ll provide you with the inspiration you need to create your own!

Introduction

Hey, I’m Wytze and I wrote this user guide to give you a better sense of me and my unique personality, style of communication, and how my character is wired. Think of it as a shortcut to help us develop the most effective work-relationship.

I’m 30-years old and currently live in a village called Oegstgeest after moving out of Amsterdam in 2018. I live there with my wife Lotte, my 18-month old son Vince and we’re expecting a second boy in March of 2021.

I’m equally ambitious about work as I am about spending time with family. I love working hard, delivering quality, and pushing my brain to and over the limit. Having worked in Events, I’m accustomed to working under pressure towards tight deadlines.

My character in bullet points:

  • I’m calm and composed. I only speak if I have something to say and generally don’t let my emotions get in the way of making the most rational decision.
  • I value relationships and results. They are not either/or with me. I care deeply about the people I work with but equally for the results I want to achieve.
  • Trust and commitment are key to me. I expect people to respect when information is shared privately and to always give 110% in effort.

My style

  • I believe the best managers work in service of their team. I’ll always adapt my leadership style to what fits your specific needs or what the situation requires.
  • I’m most energized when I get the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty working together with you on strategy, copywriting, or sales.
  • I believe in giving people freedom, flexibility, and stretch assignments, and equipping them with the tools they need to develop their potential.

What I value

  • As a manager, I appreciate being kept in the loop on the status of projects you’re working on. A short paragraph with bullet point updates is usually all I need.
  • I value resourcefulness and proactivity. Be smart, move fast, and pivot quickly. Ask forgiveness rather than permission. Make mistakes and learn from them.
  • I value co-workers that treat others the way they want to be treated.
Credit: Wytze de Haan
It doesn’t hurt to present your leadership manual in a visually appealing manner.

What I don’t have patience for

  • If you make a mistake or something is heading off the rails, tell me before the crash. I would rather avoid surprises.
  • I default to trust, but if my confidence is shaken, it’s hard to rebuild. Ways to lose my trust: withholding important information, avoiding hard conversations, or treating others with disrespect.
  • I am turned off by entitlement, ego, and self-importance; I don’t care what title you have, we’re all part of a team trying to complete the same mission.

How to best communicate with me

  • You can message me over Slack at any time of day without worrying whether or not you’re invading my privacy. I’ll respond later if it’s an inconvenient time.
  • Please only call me on my cell phone if it’s an emergency. Answering phone calls interrupts my workflow and I don’t always remember to phone back.
  • I value clear messages instead of having to decipher what’s being asked of me. If you need to choose: be blunt instead of being vague.

My strengths

  • I’m a great copywriter. If you’re struggling with formulating the best message for an email or announcement, I am happy to help you.
  • I like presenting, negotiating, and selling. These things come naturally to me.
  • I’m good at reading people and can get along with almost anybody.

My growth areas

  • I’m a perfectionist and constantly trying to make sure that this aspect of my character doesn’t hold me back from starting now and iterating later.
  • Having worked at one employer for a decade means my business knowledge is skewed to one source; in the near future, I’m looking to expand my horizon.

What people misunderstand about me

  • Even though I am great at communicating, I am actually an introvert.
  • If you find me silent in a conversation it’s probably because I’m carefully weighing your words to form my opinion or advice on the matter.

This article originally appeared in Wytze’s newsletter, The Hatchet.

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