Becoming a manager is a stressful, yet rewarding, experience. Beginners in management often fail in their first role. This is mainly because of their misconceptions about what it means to be the boss. In this post, you will find the main misconceptions about management, reality, and tips for successful leadership. The main misconceptions of the new managers are:
I can rely on the same skills that led me to the management role.
Being a manager means I am more independent.
Formal authority is a source of power.
Results delivery requires controlling people.
I must build relationships with individual subordinates.
I will make sure that the operation will keep running smoothly.
1 – Be a leader. Don’t be a star.
Myth: I can rely on the same skills that led me to my new role.
Reality: The required skills to be a successful manager are completely different. You learn them mostly by experience. You need to put your emotional intelligence at work.
Tip: Prepare yourself for the management role before you take it. If you already are a manager, it is never too late. Learn and practice.
2 – Stay humble, you can’t do whatever you want
Myth: Now I can implement my brilliant plans. I can change everything.
Reality: You are tied with a complex chain of interactions. You discover that someone who works for you could get you fired.
Tip: Build your network inside the organization. Learn how to negotiate and influence. Understand the interdependencies and stay humble.
3 – Don’t rely on your formal authority. You must earn it.
Myth: My position is a source of power.
Reality: You can’t be more wrong. It will surprise you that people will not give you respect and trust you for your formal authority, you need to earn it.
Tip: Demonstrate competence (listen more than talk), character (your willingness to do the right thing) and influence in the organization.
The more talented the subordinate, the less likely he/she is to follow orders.
4 – Don’t seek compliance. Seek commitment.
Myth: I must get compliance from my subordinates. I am in charge; I control.
Reality: More often than not, direct reports will not respond when you tell them to do something.
Tip: Build commitment by empowering individuals to achieve team goals. Don’t use orders.
Learning new skills is paramount in today’s world. Whether you are searching for a first job, seeking a promotion in your current job or planning to make a career pivot, your ability to learn new skills (fast) will be your best friend.
In his book “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything. Fast!”, Josh Kaufman suggests the following 10 steps to gain a new skill quickly:
Choose a project you love, a project you are very curious about.
Focus your energy on one skill at a time, don’t try to learn everything at once.
Define your target performance level, when you become “good enough” on the skill. This will define how long and how much energy you will put in this project.
Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills. Divide and conquer.
Obtain critical tools, the tools you need for practice and performance.
Eliminate barriers to practice, including emotional barriers. Set your environment in a way to reduce the effort required to practice. Remove distractions, put your mobile phone away, etc.
Make dedicated time for practice, MAKE it.
Create fast feedback loops. Feedback is to get accurate information about how well you are performing. Using this information to improve the performance creates a feedback loop. The faster the loop, the faster the learning.
Practice by the clock in short bursts. You may try the Pomodoro technique.
Emphasize quantity and speed. Don’t seek perfection. Quantity is better than quality for learning a new skill.
To be at your best performance, and accelerate your learning curve, make sure you are in the zone, or in a flow state. More on that in future posts.
Stress is the response of your body to challenge. Your level of stress predicts your performance in your job and your relationships. On the one hand, high levels of stress would cause strong anxiety, exhaustion, and impaired performance. On the other hand, low levels of stress would result in boredom, inactivity, and disengagement.
You need an optimal amount of stress to perform at your best. In psychology, this is known as the Yerkes–Dodson law, depicted in the figure below.
If you are a manager or a leader, make sure that your people are experiencing the optimal level of stress to stay engaged, motivated and at their best performance.