Why, for most that enter it, does management present so many surprising hurdles and frustrate so many presumptions and expectations?
First, management is different from anything you’ve done before. Becoming an effective manager is difficult because of the great variance that separates the work of management from the work of individual contributor.
Many managers think at first that managing others will be an extension of managing themselves. They assume they will be doing what they did previously, except they will exercise more control over their work and the work of others. Instead, they find they must make a great leap into a new and strange universe unlike anything they’ve encountered before.
This is especially true if you’re a producing manager who must combine the roles of individual contributor and manager. At first, you naturally tend to think the managerial role is simply a broader version of managing yourself. Only with time and painful experience will you discover it’s totally different. Becoming an effective manager requires that you not only acquire new skills and knowledge but also undergo difficult personal change.
Those who become managers must learn to see themselves and their work differently. They must develop new values, deeper self-awareness, increased emotional maturity, and the ability to exercise wise judgment.
Many managers, for example, are accused of being control freaks because they don’t delegate. But a desire for control often isn’t the problem. Instead, it’s an issue of identity. They haven’t yet changed how they think about themselves and their contribution, the value they add as managers. They resist giving up the role of doer because they believe, if only unconsciously, that’s who they are. They have not learned to see themselves as the leader.
In fact, becoming a manager requires so much personal learning and change that it is truly a transformation, similar to the transformations required by such life events as leaving home, finishing school and beginning a career, getting married, or having a child.
Like these profound inflection points, becoming an effective manager will call on you to act, think, and feel in new ways; discover new sources of satisfaction; and relinquish old, comfortable, but now outmoded roles and self-perceptions. It requires you to consider anew the questions: Who am I? What do I want? What value do I add? Take some time to answer these questions.
Progress will come more quickly and easily to those who understand the challenges they face. I coach a lot of new managers and this post and several to follow is dedicated to their successful transition from employee to manager.