Some par­tic­i­pants in train­ing and coach­ing address this topic. Can any­body learn and become a man­ager? Can it be taught or is it a gift? Are peo­ple with that gift bet­ter man­agers? Good man­ager by my par­tic­i­pants’ def­i­n­i­tion is some­one who gets results through his team, he is fol­lowed by peo­ple vol­un­tar­ily, his team is steady, the atmos­phere is pro­duc­tive and positive.

Here are my thoughts based on my expe­ri­ence and the obser­va­tion of sev­eral thou­sand man­agers, team lead­ers, GMs and CEO’s.

Let’s sim­plify the point of view. The answer to the above ques­tions is YES and NO (now you can see why I am a con­sul­tant :) )

Yes — any­body can become a man­ager

No —  not every­body who becomes one, nec­es­sar­ily likes the respon­si­bil­ity and stays a manager

Yes — it can be taught

No — not every­body who learns how to man­age, applies the knowl­edge and is will­ing to change bad habits

Yes — the gift (or a tal­ent) helps a lot

No — it is not enough to be only gifted and tal­ented. Good man­age­ment requires more than that.

I see 3 major con­di­tions to become a good manager.

Tal­ent (born with pre­con­di­tions, the 6th sense), flex­i­bil­ity (abil­ity to accept and apply feed­back and adjust behav­iour) and head knowl­edge (meth­ods, laws of man­age­ment, sys­tem of lead­ing people)

Hav­ing the head knowl­edge and know­ing the meth­ods and sys­tems of lead­ing peo­ple defi­nately helps. Can any­body lead and man­age wihtout it? Of course. There are many exam­ples from daily life of many com­pa­nies, which do not invest in any man­age­ment train­ing or coach­ing. Are they effec­tive man­agers? From my expe­ri­ence, usu­ally much less effec­tive that the ones who have at least some for­mal knowl­edge and train­ing. I com­pare it to assem­bling IKEA fur­ni­ture. Can you put together IKEA stuff with­out instruc­tions? Of course. Does it take longer and are you less effec­tive with­out the sys­tem and instruc­tions? Very much so.

The for­mal train­ing and coach­ing is nec­es­sary, read­ing man­age­ment books is very help­ful, know­ing meth­ods how to man­age peo­ple saves the time and energy spent on fig­ur­ing out com­plex and com­pli­cated sit­u­a­tions with you sub­or­di­nates by your­self, intuitively.

I have just recently met a man­ager who had all the head knowl­edge and read num­ber of books on man­age­ment. So he claimed. How­ever, he was miss­ing another vital part of the game — flex­i­bil­ity. Flex­i­bil­ity to lis­ten to feed­back, lis­ten to a dif­fer­ent point of view and abil­ity to adjust the behav­iour. This is the only way to grow and improve. “There is a dif­fer­ence between know­ing the path and walk­ing the path” — such a true line from Matrix.

Any­body can be fed the knowl­edge, but only a few peo­ple are will­ing and able to apply the knowl­edge repeat­edly, accept feed­back, adjust behav­iour and change for the bet­ter. Head knowl­edge means to know what to do, in which sit­u­a­tion and con­sciously apply­ing it over and over and over again.

The last, but not least we are get­ting to tal­ent, or if you wish, pre­con­di­tions we are born with. Nobody is born a man­ager. What some peo­ple are born with is the nat­ural pre­dis­po­si­tion, the nat­ural abil­ity. Both groups have to work hard and develop the skill fur­ther every day. Tal­ent makes things eas­ier, and with the com­bi­na­tion of head knowl­edge and flex­i­bil­ity, it can bring excel­lent, long run results to a man­ager. How­ever, tal­ent alone, does not mean any­thing. If the tal­ent is not used the right way, and prac­ticed hand in hand with pre­vi­ous two con­di­tions, it is not suf­fi­cient. Have I ever seen peo­ple with­out tal­ent for man­age­ment being man­ager? Yes, I have, they were cases of peo­ple apply­ing the head knowl­edge and flex­i­bil­ity, men­tioned above. Were those peo­ple suc­cess­ful as man­ager? Yes, sure. I have also seen very tal­ented peo­ple, with great poten­tial for man­ag­ing and lead­er­ship, how­ever, they did not accept nor apply any feed­back. Too bad, for them. Those case do not last very long in many com­pa­nies. They are very much unem­ploy­able from a long term perspective.




One Thought on “Can anybody become a good manager?

  1. It’s hard to find edu­cated peo­ple about this sub­ject,
    but you sound like you know what you’re talk­ing about! Thanks

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