Welcome to Management (2020) is a guide on how to smoothly transition from being a top-performing contributor to becoming a team leader. Using case studies, personal anecdotes, and interviews demonstrates what effective leadership looks like across a range of fields. It also offers a practical framework on how to grow yourself into a leader and carry your team to sustainable success.
About the author
Ryan Hawk is a keynote speaker, the host of The Learning Leader Show podcast, and head of accounting firm Brixey & Meyer’s leadership advisory practice. He also works with teams and players in the NFL, NBA, and NCAA, and facilitates Leadership Circles that offer guidance to leaders at different stages of their careers. Welcome to Management is his first book.
It has nothing to do with how well you performed in your previous position when it comes to being a great manager:
It’s your first day on the job as a new manager. A knock comes at your door as you’re still marveling at having your own four walls.
Sarah, your subordinate, was just a week ago your peer. And you notice she’s been sobbing as she walks in. She says, “My spouse cheated on me,” without warning.
The first thought that comes to mind is, “Why is she telling me this?” What do Sarah’s marital problems have to do with me?
In his first week as a manager, the author discovered he did not understand what it meant to be a leader when confronted with a grieving comrade. As you’ll see, just because someone is competent for a managerial position doesn’t ensure he’ll be able to perform it effectively.
It’s called the Peter Principle, and it’s a well-known management issue. It claims that people tend to rise through the ranks in a hierarchy until they are no longer competent. Employees in organizations may go from one promotion to the next before settling into a role in which they no longer thrive, at which point they become stagnant and stop moving.
This ceiling is regrettably too prevalent, as most organizations poorly prepare first-time managers. No matter how great you were at your prior work, becoming the boss necessitates a completely another set of abilities.
For starters, as a leader, you must motivate yourself and your entire team to achieve success. That includes being accountable for a team member whose divorce will impact her work performance and morale.
While the author did not develop the necessary abilities for effective leadership overnight, there are practical techniques you may use to achieve the same results. You’ll discover the skills you’ll need to become a manager who inspires others to achieve greatness in the next few paragraphs. However, before you can assist others in growing, you must first lead yourself.
You must be able to self-discipline before you can lead others:
Let’s imagine you’re a new boss who wants to take advantage of some of the privileges that come with being in charge. Allowing yourself the luxury of arriving at work a little later is the first step. You inform your team that you are on call and should continue to arrive on schedule.
After a few weeks, you decide to get up bright and early every day. You’re going to surprise your coworkers by arriving on time, but as soon as you walk in the door, it’s evident that more than half of the workstations are vacant. What happened to everyone?
The last person doesn’t arrive until late in the morning. You’re more than dismayed at this point. Didn’t you specifically request that everyone else arrive on time? After all, you’re the boss here, not them.
People are far more likely to follow self-disciplined leaders. Asking your staff to accomplish difficult things is a part of your role as a manager. To make that request credible, you must demonstrate that you can handle difficult duties independently.
To create the mental toughness required for taking on problems, as novelist Jon puts it, you must first make a habit of seeking suffering. Mental toughness, he believes, is like a muscle that weakens without use. On the other hand, if you spend your life pursuing nothing but comfort, you will eventually become incapable of pushing yourself forward.
Developing a physical fitness routine is an excellent method to develop discipline. Work out first thing in the morning. Even if it hurts to get out of bed, you’ll gradually strengthen your resistance to discomfort and develop essential mental calluses, as ultra-endurance runner David Goggins calls them. These calluses can help you be more robust in the face of adversity in many aspects of your life, especially at work.
A disciplined mind does adapt better to hardship and failure. After all, unless you push yourself beyond what is comfortable, you’ll never know how far you can go. Finally, the discipline will help not only your mind but the minds of those you lead.
It would help if you become a learning machine to be a great leader:
It’s 1861, the commencement of the American Civil War, and Maine college professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain has just enrolled in the Union Army. He prepares for duty by reading every book on the military strategy he can find, despite his lack of military experience.
By July 1863, Chamberlain had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel, just in time for the pivotal fight of Gettysburg. However, calamity strikes when his regiment runs out of ammo during a violent uphill battle. Instead of retiring, Chamberlain launches a counter-offensive, ordering his soldiers to stab their rifles and charge.
This tactical move is often seen as the turning point in the war, bringing the Confederacy into defeat.
Joshua Chamberlain’s tale exemplifies the importance of education. You’ll have to adopt the habit yourself to prepare for your leadership clashes.
Begin by visualizing oneself as a learning machine, as popularized by renowned investor Charlie Munger. As opposed to being a passive learner, being a learning machine entails programming yourself to be on the lookout for new knowledge regularly.
The author proposes a four-step structure for becoming a learning machine: consume, rest, reflect, and educate.
Mentors, or someone you trust who is in a position higher than you, can be an excellent source of personalized knowledge. Books and podcasts can also be excellent virtual mentors. Make time for these and take notes to continually better yourself.
After you’ve absorbed what you’ve learned to the test, take Chamberlain’s approach and apply what you’ve learned by developing an actionable strategy to assist you in putting what you’ve learned into practice. After then, think about your experience. If at all possible, seek input from your mentor.
Finally, think about sharing your newfound expertise. Book yourself on a podcast to present a topic, for example. Teaching is advantageous since it necessitates thorough preparation. Even teaching something back to oneself can help: according to a 2018 study, self-explanation improves learning more than simply taking notes.
Only by becoming a learning machine can you begin to see yourself develop as a leader. And the more you put your knowledge to use, the more you’ll inspire others to follow in your footsteps.
To form an efficient team, you must first decide what qualities you value in a person:
Consider yourself a pilot in the middle of a flight when you notice an issue with your plane. One thing is certain: if you overlook the necessary repairs, you will not arrive at your objective. But be cautious: making rash judgments can throw you off track and perhaps cause the plane to crash.
The same principle applies in business, albeit with a considerably lesser probability of catastrophic disaster. Your team is what keeps you going in the same way that an airplane is what keeps a pilot in the air. It is critical to your success.
As the pilot of your squad, it’s up to you to select who to stay and who to let go. You must strike the perfect balance between stability and change during this process.
The takeaway here is that to form an effective team, you must first determine what you value in a person.
If you don’t have the luxury of starting from scratch, you’ll almost certainly be allocated a team when you become a manager. High, low, and ordinary performers are likely to be included. However, before you can figure out who fits in which group, you must first determine what qualities you require. After all, you can’t form a successful team until you understand what that entails.
Of course, you’ll evaluate each person based on the talents they bring to a position. However, it’s also worthwhile to consider features that aren’t immediately apparent.
The hiring process for NASA’s moon-landing Apollo program – which looked at how hopeful team members were – is a wonderful example of this. The flight director for the historic Apollo 11 landing and the Apollo 13 recovery, Gene Kranz, explained how trainees were put through rigorous training. They were eliminated if their optimism diminished.
The necessity of their preparation was shown when the crew of the Apollo 13 spacecraft experienced a mission-aborting explosion on board. They faced an almost impossible task because they were stranded and lacked cryogenic oxygen tanks. Despite this, the three astronauts landed safely in the Pacific Ocean four days after the explosion. Kranz said the crew’s singular and required collective optimism made this heroic act possible.
Consider attributes like work ethic, resilience, and curiosity as you make your list. Then spend some time explaining why each one is significant. You’ll most likely uncover folks who are obvious keepers as a result of your examination, and you might even discover your team’s star player.
Only a culture of mutual trust can maintain leadership:
The author chose to skip the first team meeting on his first day as manager. Instead, he requested that the HR manager convene all his new teammates in a room without him present to hear their uncensored opinions and concerns.
The author was finally let in when these had been established.
Because team members were given the freedom to vent their issues openly and without fear of retaliation, a culture of mutual trust was established from the start.
When all employees feel psychologically safe and can freely express themselves, it is one of the markers of strong work culture. According to research on the issue, there is a definite link between psychological safety in the workplace and performance.
An internal Google research backs this up, indicating that teams with great psychological safety had substantially superior results overall. Employees were also more likely to remain with the organization. Like much other research that has come to the same result, improving the way your coworkers feel at work leads to decreased turnover and higher productivity.
Take any fantastic film from the last ten years as an example. Without a doubt, the director incorporated each scene for a precise reason. You may be surprised to learn that several additional sequences were shot but not used. In truth, a lot of money and work goes into creating sequences that never make it to our television screens.
The director only lets material out of the editing room necessary for delivering the story.
As a great team leader, you must trim your story – just like all great filmmakers, writers, and orators – to get to the essence of your message.
As a manager, it’s your role to establish a clear vision and strategy for your team and guarantee that everyone understands it. At the end of the day, if the team lacks clarity, it is your fault as the leader.
Remember that how you say something is just as essential as what you say. Brevity is sometimes important, whether vocally or in writing, because it guarantees that unnecessary details don’t drown out the significance of what you say. Put on your film director’s hat, for example, when drafting an email. Return to your original draft and consider whether everything there is required. As you go through each area, be honest with yourself and delete everything unnecessary – even if it seems OK or even intriguing!
When you do this every time you prepare to communicate, you’ll be able to stay focused on your message and reduce the chances of misunderstanding. After all, the only way to achieve group results is to work toward the same goal.
As you’ve previously learned, you must pay attention. On the other hand, listening isn’t only about hearing someone out. You must also be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes.
Even though it wasn’t his profession, the author oversaw a telesales staff and occasionally participated in cold calling. When his team members witnessed their boss struggling with the same obstacles and rejections, it inspired them to achieve better.
The author gained a unique perspective on his team’s daily activities due to the encounter. It is easier to communicate and drive collective accomplishment when each individual can see where the other is coming from.
Put the interests of the people you manage ahead of your own:
Let’s pretend you’ve made a wonderful hire and put in the effort to train her to be a top performance. Success! Your dependable partner has routinely outperformed her goals. You’re overjoyed because it frees up time and mental space for you to work on developing other team members who are struggling to keep up.
But wait, don’t you recall being a high-performing team member? Don’t forget that excellent achievers on your team undoubtedly have bigger aspirations than you do, especially if you’re anticipating a promotion with more responsibility and financial reward.
We’ve already established that creating an environment where gifted individuals may thrive is part of your duty as a manager. However, as your star player pursues her potential, you’ll almost certainly have to lead her out the door.
While the added value a star teammate delivers means you and the rest of the team don’t have to put in as much effort, that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to keep her from leaving. Consider extending her a helping hand instead. Make it a priority to assist others in achieving their objectives, and you’ll reap the benefits. Your team will become more appealing once others perceive that it is a place where people learn and advance. Top talent is always attracted to a team that can help it grow.
Consider the greatest sports coaches in history: those who have won titles and left a legacy of future leaders. Consider the case of Bill Walsh, a former NFL coach. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion. No less than four of his mentees went on to win Super Bowls after following in his footsteps. Walsh will go down in history as one of the greatest head coaches of all time, not just because of his historic victories but also because of his role in developing a legacy of outstanding leaders.
It’s never too early to begin planning for the development of future leaders. When you’re motivated by a desire to help others, you’ll be able to create a bigger effect – one that neither you nor your team could do on their own.