Stepping up and letting go

For a manager newly appointed, letting go of the detail is sometimes a challenge. Promotion very often is based on a positive assessment of a candidate’s technical skills and understanding of detail.

Leadership, however, demands an applied and subtle understanding of how a team best works together and how individuals are best supported in their roles.

A great manager and leader creates a team that works together really well, that consistently gets the job done, that is accountable for the work that is done and the work that individual members do, that is restless in a desire to do things better.

Technical competence, therefore, is the first step for a new manager, not the last word.

A good manager has a complicated job. No longer solely orientated on tasks, good managers focus on projects and processes. They set goals. They define priorities. They build skills and confidence. They inspire and motivate staff. They set standards and define expectations. They solve problems and they support staff to solve problems. They remove obstacles. They enforce standards and realise expectations. They protect staff. They take responsibility. They admit mistakes and then correct them. They are alert to what a team must do, three, six and twelve months down the track.

They reject fear, paranoia and caprice as operating principles because these undermine teams and hurt individuals.

To be a good manager of tasks is first to be a good manager of people. It’s about getting the best out of a sometimes diverse group to get the best out of data, things and objects. And the fact that as a professional you can do something, or everything, better than anybody else doesn’t mean that as a manager you should.

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