Lots of great individual contributors ask to become managers. They reach a point in their career where a management role seems like the next logical step up. The management path appears to offer more authority, and probably more money.
Unfortunately, success as an individual contributor is no guarantee of success as a manager, and many high-performing individuals find out later that they hate the responsibilities of management. They hate the amount of time they spend in meetings. They dread the planning and budgeting. They can’t stand dealing with personnel issues. They find themselves putting off work on performance reviews. They don’t effectively delegate tasks, because they can more easily perform the tasks themselves.
So, how do you know if you’re cut out to be a manager? Here are a few telltale signs:
- You read way more news, articles and books about management and business than you do about your current functional field. You spend nights and weekends self-educating on management. You’ve devoured Drucker, Grove, Porter, Galbraith, Kotler and everything else on provenmodels.com, and you still want more.
- You’d gladly stop working on an exciting product for the opportunity to lead a team to fix one of your company’s broken business process (e.g. purchasing, inventory management, performance reviews, order taking).
- You’re really proud of the metrics and dashboards you’ve developed to measure and portray progress and results.
- You run exceptional meetings, because you put a ton of thought and research into running great meetings,
- You wish there was someone else in your company with whom you could debate the merits of agile project management, kanban project management and the critical chain approach.
- Your mentor is an management expert, more than just an expert in your functional field. You’re always pestering him or her with questions about business and management.
- You study best business practices in other industries, and imagine applying them to your industry.
- You’re convinced that organizational structure matters, and you know how you’d structure the company if you were CEO.
- You think Steve Jobs gets too much credit for being a visionary and Tim Cook doesn’t get enough credit for turning around Apple’s operations.
- You felt a thrill when ANSI approved ANSI/SHRM-09001-2012.(Okay, maybe this is a stretch).
Sales managers worry about the customer acquisition process while their reps acquire the customers. Engineering managers worry about the document approval process while their team creates the documents. Think of it this way: the greatest sports coaches were rarely the superstar players. The focus of a manager is on the people and process more than the product. The focus is on the how, not the what.
If you’re a superstar sales rep, it’s probably because you love selling. If you’re a superstar engineer, it’s probably because you have a passion for engineering. For a management role, functional excellence is necessary but not sufficient. It takes a real passion for management to become a superstar manager. If you’re thinking about that next step, take a long look in the mirror and understand your own passions first.
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