Before you embark on developing your management skills, begin by thinking about why you want a career in management. Unfortunately, there’s a widespread point of view that unless you get promoted into management, something is wrong. You’re not progressing in your career. That point of view reveals a lack of wisdom.
We need to eliminate the thinking that equates growth and career progress with promotions. I’ve known many individual performers who have a strong drive to grow and progress in their careers, and who have zero desire to go into management. They love what they do, they’re extremely good at it and they just want to get better and better at their chosen profession. That’s something to celebrate.
So before you invest your time developing management skills, ask yourself why you want to do this. Is it primarily because you want to earn more money? There is absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to earn more money. But if that’s your primary motivation, you might wind up in management, earning plenty of money and being miserable. Too many people make that bargain. If you continue to grow in a given profession, however, more money will come as you increase your capacity to create value.
Here are some of the best reasons to pursue any type of career. You’re good at it. You enjoy it. And you can go home at night knowing you’ve made a difference. If that’s why you want to become a manager, go for it.
Back to the original question. If you’re not a manager today, how can you develop your management skills?
- Look for opportunities to lead in your organization, in community organizations and in professional organizations.
Let your supervisor know that you’re looking for these types of opportunities, so she can help you.
- Demonstrate initiative.
Volunteer to lead a project or to head up a committee. This could involve anything from a picnic to a job fair to a charity drive. Identify something about your department (or your organization) that should be improved and volunteer to lead the improvement initiative.
- Go the extra mile.
When you’re on a team but you are not the leader, go the extra mile. Work a little harder. Make sacrifices. Volunteer for assignments. Ask people to help.
- Demonstrate a consistent positive attitude.
Positivity is contagious and contributes to high morale and high performance. Encourage others to be optimistic and positive. This is an important management skill you can practice every day.
- Demonstrate your commitment to help others succeed.
Find ways to help your team members succeed, not just as a team, but also individually.
I’m sure that this is not an exhaustive list of tips for developing your management skills, but I assure you it’s a good start.
Thanks for reading. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.
Larry Sternberg is the co-author of Managing to Make a Difference (Wiley), a handbook for hitting the sweet spot of middle management. He also serves as the Talent Plus Fellow and Advisor, performing duties as an oft-requested speaker and consultant.
You can learn more about Larry here.
Larry is a Fellow and Board Member at Talent Plus where he helps people and organizations grow by using the Talent Plus science to select high potential people, put them in the right fit for their talent, and make them feel valued and significant.
“I help managers and leaders make a lasting positive difference in the lives of their employees.”
Talent: Conceptualization, Relationship, Ego Drive, Individualized Approach, Growth Orientation