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By Jolie Miller |

Are You Ready to Be a Manager? 6 Things You Should Know

Ready to be a manager? Find out

They’re everywhere. You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve even worked for them:

Bad bosses.

From the micromanager to the tyrant to the checked-out guy who’s never available, bad managers make the work life miserable for everyone around them.

Too many people are promoted up the corporate ladder without the skills they need to lead.

Management isn’t for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. If you’re in line for a promotion or dream of a taking a leadership position someday, do yourself and your potential future team a favor: Take time to assess whether you’re truly ready to be a manager — and a good one at that.

Here are the six things I wish I’d known when I stepped into my first management job years ago.

1. It’s not about you.

All too often, we focus on the “me” in management: Where is that promotion for me? What about my next step? I know more, so I should obviously be in charge.

But the hard truth is that management requires you to put yourself second—every day going forward. Management is about service, and with service comes privilege and responsibility.

Your first goal in leading a team is to help that team and those individuals do more together than they could do without you, so you have to cultivate the mindset of service.

2. Notice. Appreciate. Repeat.

My greatest tool as a manager is acknowledgement and appreciation, and when I’m doing my job well, they’re both flowing freely and liberally to my team and other teams.

But in order to appreciate others, you first have to practice noticing what’s going on around you—developing a greater awareness of yourself and your impact, and others and their impact. This is a fancy way of saying emotional intelligence is your best friend; it helps you tune into others’ frequencies so you can better serve them.

3. Treat everyone fairly—and differently.

Some of the worst managers out there have a hard time following this cardinal rule: Manage every employee differently.

No two people are the same; we all have different motivations, triggers, interests, and skill levels. And we all interact with our managers differently.

So as a manager, the key is to understand different management styles and then customize your approach to each person’s needs. The key here is that you’re the one doing the adjusting: Remember that you’re serving your employees.

For example, I’ve had some employees who like to talk often and others who need more space. I check in with both of them—but not with the same frequency or style. Which brings me to my next point:

As you’re managing everyone differently, keep in mind that you have to be fair across your whole team. Just because people need different things in different ways doesn’t mean that either way is better or that you should treat either with preference.

4. Be flexible.

Management roles are often considered harder than non-management positions because there’s a constant pressure on leaders to be flexible to meet the changing needs of the team and the business.

It’s your job to be the one who adapts to maximize what the team can do and make sure everyone is collectively hitting the right note. This means that if, for example, you’re someone who likes to process what you want to say and collect your thoughts before speaking, you might have to get used to processing out loud in order to facilitate that need with a team member who works that way.

It won’t come naturally at first, but it’s an important skill to start practicing before a promotion. Are you willing to make those adaptations in order to hear and reach everyone you’re serving?

5. Have a point of view.

The best managers have real skills and vision to contribute to the team in addition to being able to handle time cards and work schedules. So be clear on your values and develop a leadership philosophy. My office displays Startup Vitamins posters that make it crystal clear what I value: Get Stuff Done, Complaining Is Not a Strategy, Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can, and so on.

But managing well isn’t about posters—it’s about living consistently with what you believe, only asking your team to do things that you would do yourself, and making sure your talk and your actions are consistent with what you ask ofyour team. All eyes are on you as a manager, so this is an important one to get right.

6. Take responsibility.

Being responsible for your own work is very different than having the responsibility for a whole team’s output resting on your shoulders.

The manager’s toolkit includes ways to motivate people, set goals, monitor performance, deliver results—and keep a happy attitude while juggling all that!

A lot of this ability comes from the skills above—being able to read people, meet them where they’re at, and articulate a point of view to lead them where you’re headed. But what I want you to keep in mind above all is that your performance is no longer going to be measured on what you alone can do; it’s about how you enable your team to perform. A team is usually strong because of (not in spite of) a strong manager.

Good luck!


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