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Stepping Up to Your First Managerial Role

Jul 24, 2020 | 10m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • Focusing on the collective growth of your team rather than your individual progress
  • Admitting your weaknesses to cultivate transparency within your team
  • Two things Sachin wished he had known before he took his first managerial role


Groom Your Communication Skills

If you're like most people, you go to work each day with the hope of becoming better at your job. You desire to climb up the ladder in your profession so that you can achieve a certain level of success. That feeling of walking into an appraisal and being offered a promotion is quite extraordinary!

As society continues to advance rapidly, we find ourselves constantly chasing after the next milestone, sometimes feeling like the marathon is never going to end. There is always something greater to achieve, something more fulfilling to pursue. Once we reach a certain goal, there still remains a hunger for more.

But not all of us are able to climb the ladder as quickly as others. Competition is tight as everyone scrambles to be recognised, appreciated, and rewarded for their effort. So, what can you do to stand out to your supervisors and get yourself on the list for the next promotion?

At some point in your career, you probably hope to be a manager. Through this role, you will have greater influence over your team and potentially have more impact on your company’s success. Being promoted to a management position does not only depend on your external achievements but also internal growth.

The most important aspect of being a manager is communication, both verbal and written. Some have the misconception using lofty language and jargon in your emails will make you sound more experienced. But the opposite is true. The more complex your emails, the more confused your team will be. A large part of your role as a manager is to guide your team in achieving your goals. This is only possible if you're able to communicate your vision and tasks clearly. If your team has to spend precious time clarifying what you mean, then you would have wasted time that could have been spent working towards your vision.

When you become a manager, you're no longer contributing to the company by yourself. Your role is to synthesise information given to you by your superiors, break this down, and delegate the tasks to your team.

A good way to broaden your understanding of what being a manager entails is to talk to other managers who have inspired you in the past. Even if they are from a different company, learning from a variety of leaders who have achieved what you hope to achieve in your career will be invaluable. Initiate conversations with them about their career decisions and thinking processes. This can give you insight and guidance on what steps you need to take to achieve your goals.

While learning about their successes is helpful, this is only half of the story. The truth is, we learn much more from failures than success. If your friend is willing to share, ask them about their mistakes in their path to becoming a manager so that you will not make the same mistakes in the process.

Are You Ready?

Before becoming a manager, you were used to working in a team. Most of your focus is probably placed on what you can achieve within the year and how you can progress in your career to something greater. To put it briefly, your day-to-day work was all about you. It may sound selfish, but this is simply human nature.

When you're ready to become a manager, however, your focus shifts. You may have big picture ideas on how to improve processes and do things differently. It is no longer about what you can do individually but what your team can achieve collectively. You feel ready to take on the responsibility for the success and failures of others, and you find yourself eager to nurture your team towards realising their full potential.

As a manager, you must be comfortable with collective defeat and shared victories. As you're responsible for leading your team to success, you’ll equally have to acknowledge your shortcomings when you encounter challenges. It is not about individual glory but about discovering how you can inspire your team to succeed together.

Showing Your Weakness is an Advantage

Because of all the responsibilities that a management role entails, it may feel like the world is on your shoulders. As a leader, you probably assume that you're supposed to have all of the answers to every question and solutions to every problem. But you're just as human as the janitor who keeps your office spick and span. In fact, a managerial role might even accentuate your weaknesses.

Admitting to your weakness and vulnerability may actually serve you better than trying to bury them deep inside. This shows your team that you're one of them, and you're transparent about your struggles. When they are aware of your struggles, your team members can be better prepared to help you and support you in areas where you fall short.

People who are appointed to be managers may not necessarily be the best contributor, but they may have leadership potential. Don’t let your leadership mantle get to you. Certainly don’t assume that you have the best ideas and everyone on your team should do as you say just because you wear the coveted title. Make sure you stay humble, ensure that all members of your team have the chance to share their thoughts, and make decisions objectively in the interest of your shared goals.

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Former Chief of Staff




Taking on a New Leadership Role