Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Manager?

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August 06, 2020

Do you have what it takes to be a manager? In this episode of HBR’s advice podcast, Dear HBR:, cohosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn answer your questions with the help of Ellen Van Oosten, a professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and coauthor of the book Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth. They talk through what to do when you’ve been tapped for a managerial role but you don’t want it, you have only informal management experience on your CV, or your supervisor is blocking you from earning the title of manager.

Listen to more episodes and find out how to subscribe on the Dear HBR: page. Email your questions about your workplace dilemmas to Dan and Alison at dearhbr@hbr.org.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list for this episode:

HBR: Are You Sure You Want to Be a Manager? by Joseph Grenny — “I’ve sat with many recently promoted leaders over the years — newly minted supervisors, first-time CEOs, and even recently elected political leaders — some who wondered what they had gotten themselves into. I’ve likewise participated in the deliberations of some who were ambivalent about taking on a new position and turning up the heat in their own lives. Here is some counsel on what to consider before you make the leap to manager.”

BookHelping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth by Richard E. Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten — “This is what great coaches do. It’s what great managers do and great teachers do and what others do who know how to help people find and do what they love. They engage us in conversations that inspire us. They make us want to develop and change, and they help us do so.”

HBR: How to Know If Someone Is Ready to Be a Manager by Anna Ranieri — “An important thing to look for in this situation is an awareness of the nature of management. Moving into a management role requires divesting oneself of some individual contributor duties and taking on new duties as a team leader. If the new manager doesn’t fully understand that, they might hold things up.”

HBR: What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means by Carol Dweck — “To remain in a growth zone, we must identify and work with these triggers. Many managers and executives have benefited from learning to recognize when their fixed-mindset ‘persona’ shows up and what it says to make them feel threatened or defensive. Most importantly, over time they have learned to talk back to it, persuading it to collaborate with them as they pursue challenging goals.”

A complete written transcript of this episode will be available by August 12.

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