“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
This is one of many famous quotes you will stumble upon if you read about management. Yet this blog post is not about leadership vs. management or about theory and definitions. It’s about the practical reality that 80% of people who become managers do so without getting training, preparation or support. They are expected to succeed and yet they are left alone. Then everyone else seems shocked and points fingers when 60% of them struggle and underperform.
In this blog series I will be offering a step-by-step guide to becoming an effective manager. Each blog post will consist of several key lessons and a 5-minute challenge — I will ask you to do ONE thing that will take no longer than five minutes. Are you ready?
Lesson # 1 — feeling excited and petrified at the same time is not a contradiction or a cause for concern.
Some people work hard toward that promotion, anticipate it with great enthusiasm and celebrate when they become managers. Other people are simply told one day that they are now managing someone. Whatever your path is you may feel thrill and dread, frequently at the same time. You may feel ready to crush it, or utterly unprepared. That’s normal — embrace it, and don’t let the emotions distract you from the fact that you simply need to work at it.
Lesson # 2 — it’s okay to struggle.
If you are a new manager, and nobody told you what is required of you, first of all, know that you are not alone. Second, know that you can do it. You can figure it out. The fact that you are reading this is already a sign of progress. You are not going to be amazing on day three, and that’s okay. It won’t be easy, but you will greatly improve over time (if you keep an open mind and invest the time to learn and apply what you learn).
Lesson # 3 — recognize that being a manager is different from whatever you were doing before.
We learn from experience. If we do something poorly, and realize that, we try to change our approach. If we do something well, we repeat that action or pattern. It’s natural to assume that you became a manager because you did something well. So you will be inclined to keep doing that thing you were doing before. Let go of this assumption.
Lesson # 4 — figure out what’s different about being a manager.
Grab a pen and write down the three top bullets in a manager position description. Don’t look at what you were given (if anything). Let your intuition guide you. And don’t try to skip this paragraph looking for the right answer farther down — you won’t find it in this blog post.
Take five minutes and think about what is different about the manager role — this is your 5-minute challenge.
Congratulations! You completed one important step toward becoming an effective manager. It wasn’t that hard, was it?
My ask: could you share what you wrote down in the comments below? Let’s explore the collective wisdom of our readers!
Subscribe to this blog or come back next week to find out what my take is on this question and to learn about the next step. Would you like a sneak peak? Check out LeadIN’s Effective Team Leadership program and / or attend one of our mini-workshops in Washington, DC.
Zarko Palankov seeks ways to connect ideas, people and organizations, to create platforms for learning, collaboration and growth, and to fundamentally change the leadership paradigm: how we work together toward a common vision. He is building a social venture, LeadIN, whose mission is to grow the individual and collective leadership of people and organizations. Feel free to contact Zarko at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow LeadIN on Twitter @leadincommunity.