Leadership, communication, humility, and inspiration are the building blocks of a good manager. But there are also several management misconceptions people have about what it means to lead a team. Some are small and some are major issues that can lead you down the wrong path and create problems almost immediately. Let’s take a closer look at the six misconceptions below:
1. Skill and Success Earn the Right to Manage
Being very good at what you do is a big part of moving up in an organization. It’s how you get noticed in the first place, but it’s not the secret to becoming a successful manager. Plenty of top tier individual contributors struggle when given a new position in management, and plenty of average contributors are exceptional leaders. What matters most is the ability to learn from past successes andmistakes, and keep an open mind to what you need to learn when you take on your new role.
2. Management is Easier than Everyday Contribution
Management isn’t about sitting in a fancy office and letting everyone else do the work. Sure, it can be that if you don’t care about your team and their performance, but a good manager works incredibly hard. If you care about your team and want to see them excel and move forward, it takes time and dedication, working hands-on with them to get the most out of their efforts.
3. Management is About Good Instincts
Sometimes you have to make quick decisions and your gut is all you have, but good management is about planning ahead and admitting when you make a mistake. The “perfect gut instinct” doesn’t exist, and thinking it does can lead you down many roads to failure.
Creating clear goals, outlining expectations for your team, setting up paths to success and managing performance over the course of a period of time through regular meetings, incentive programs, and performance management is a lot of work, and relies on much more than just your gut take on a situation.
4. It’s Dangerous to Apologize or Seek Help
Some people see weakness in apologizing or asking for help as a manager. It’s important to recognize and openly admit when you make a mistake. Use it as a learning experience not just for yourself, but for the people on your team.
At the same time, don’t walk into a mistake you can avoid when there is help available. Every manager has weaknesses and should be willing to ask for help from colleagues, superiors and direct reports depending on who is best able to provide that help. It’s much better to say “I don’t know” and then find the answer than to try and fake it and create extra work for your team.
5. The Size of Your Team Indicates Skill
The size of your team is irrelevant to your skills as a manager. You could manage three people or thirty, and the focus is the same – how do these people perform, and what do you do to support that performance. Look at metrics such as retention rate, overall performance metrics, and happiness on the job to determine if you are succeeding in your role – not how many people are put on your team.
6. Job One is to Keep People In-Line
It’s easy to fall into the trap of detecting failure over rewarding success as a manager. Your job, however, is not just to keep people in line and catch them when they mess up. It is to reward them for doing a good job, share their successes with other stakeholders and help them overcome mistakes.
That means consistent interaction with your team, coaching them through learning opportunities and mentoring them when they show an interest in new skills or opportunities. Your success is measured by their success, not by the punishments you mete out.
Management misconceptions are common. To be successful is to recognize when you’re wrong, admit it and then do better. If you work constantly toward providing the foundation your team needs to succeed and guiding them through tough situations you yourself will be successful as well.