The Key to Leading Is Learning


Being a manager means coming to terms with the contrasts between the myth of management – and the reality.

Young asian woman studying online using tablet and smart pen for writing on tablet wearing earphones while sitting at desk with textbooks and glasses at indoor room. Online learning concept.When people first become supervisors, they tend to focus on their formal authority; the rights and benefits that come with getting the promotion. However, they soon find that formal authority is a very limited power source, as employees won’t necessarily follow everything they say right down to the letter. New managers also soon find out that people they don’t have authority over play an essential role in their success.

Clearly, effective management is based on learning hard lessons. Many of the most successful leaders in business have made learning a top priority. For instance, Mark Cuban reads at least three hours each day and Bill Gates used to go into seclusion for yearly “Think Weeks” – cutting himself off from family, friends, and Microsoft staff members.

Transition to Management

People typically have a lot of surprises when they become supervisors, some enjoyable and some not so nice. Parts of the job they thought would be gratifying weren’t, and some unexpected things ended up being exhilarating. For instance, some people don’t realize they enjoy coaching others and watching them succeed until they get into management.

A new manager must learn to categorize obligations. One is how to manage the people on their team. The other is how to manage context; the boundaries and the relationships of your team with other groups both inside and outside the company, as well as what’s happening in the larger environment.

Essentially, a new manager must learn to adopt new attitudes, values, and worldviews if they are going to be successful. Also, a new manager goes from being an individual contributor to a network builder; from being technically oriented to being someone accountable for setting the agenda.

Being a manager means learning how to frame issues in ways that are broad, holistic, and take a long-term view. Being aware of what your role is and how you can have an impact is a continual learning experience. Over time, a good manager learns to be more tactical about their daily activities, adjusting their behavior to generate desired results. Moreover, they learn to be more tactical about their careers, picking out the work experiences with the most potential benefit.

Leveraging Knowledge in Hiring

A manager that has learned how to manage both the personalities on their team and the context within which their team resides is well-positioned to make smarter hiring decisions. For instance, he or she should be very familiar with the qualities of top team members, what is currently missing from the team, and what it takes for someone to thrive in the organization.

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