Are You a Victim of The Management Myth?

Are You a Victim of The Management Myth?

You’ve done fantastically well in your role. You’ve performed outstandingly, taken on additional responsibilities and impressed bosses and peers alike. At your 1:1s you consistently get praise and encouragement. You and your manager think you are ready to step up…. and you do.

And you keep on doing what you have been doing so well; after all, it’s what got you the promotion in the first place. Except… you now have a new job description and additional responsibilities which are likely to need achieving success through others. This is more complicated than relying on yourself alone!

Ever sat at your shiny new desk on day 1 of your more senior role and felt both excited and slightly lost at the same time? I know I have. Sometimes I’ve had real support, guidance and mentoring to help me adapt, sometimes I haven’t. My journey to performing consistently and well in the new role was noticeably different on each occasion.

Here are some of the management myths that can trip up the transition from follower to leader, at any level.

1. Past performance is a guide to future performance.

Just because someone is a top sales performer/accountant/lawyer/engineer (insert job title here!), doesn’t automatically mean they will be a great team leader. Their existing skills and experience will be helpful, but they need to develop additional skills to succeed equally well in the future.

2. Knowledge and expertise in my subject is enough.

Harvard Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy’s research has revealed that we become influential by displaying both our competence and our warmth. Fundamentally warmth concerns being interested in other peoples wants and needs as well as our own. Inability to connect with people hampers relationships and effectiveness.

3. Everyone is like me.

Wouldn’t that be great! Or would it? Honestly, life would be pretty dull if that were true. The ability to adapt your style to make the right impact on other people is a key skill if you want to win hearts and minds. We don’t all think the same or behave in the same ways. Being able to accept and work with this is crucial.

4. Difficult issues will somehow go away if I ignore them.

What’s your definition of “difficult”? We will all have different answers. For some it’s dealing with underperformance, for others influencing people who have very strong opinions or who aren’t “team players”. Over my career I have managed lots of people who I naturally worked well with, and quite a few who I didn’t. What I can say is that having adult-to-adult conversations about things that are important is worth the effort in the long run. Preparation is key!

5. One to ones are all about getting the job done.

Well yes, ultimately that needs to be the outcome. So why am I calling this a myth? How many of us, whether the manager or the team member, end up feeling that 1:1s are a ritual to be endured? Working with people in pressurised environments week in, week out can feel like a marathon. It’s easy to lose sight of the real purpose; to have a 2-way, focussed conversation, which is helpful to both parties.

6. I’m the team leader; it all has to come from me.

It’s so easy to find yourself in transmit mode for much of the time. Your role is to harness the talents of the team so that everyone delivers together, and hopefully enjoys the journey.
The art of asking the right question, and having the patience to actively listen and engage with the answers, makes for a much more engaged team.

7. If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

Whilst this is a great mantra for taking personal responsibility, leading can feel like a lonely place if you let it. Consulting, seeking out mentors and trusted colleagues that you can talk to are essential for personal growth, development and stress management! If your organisation doesn’t have a mentoring program, either suggest one or look for opportunities to network with peers outside of the organisation.


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Richard Thornton

Learning and development consultant with 20 years experience of helping people improve their communication and leadership skills.

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