For some people, there is a point in their careers when a certain thought becomes recurrent. It starts as an itch and with time and if not taken care of, it can develop into a full rush. The idea seems simple enough and it can escalate rapidly, oversimplifying something that requires more thought. The voice within repeats the same, over an over:
“I want to become a Manager.”
It is a simple and logical thought: your career is going well, you feel you’ve learnt enough in your current position and you think you’re ready. Some people wait forever, until “it just happens” but you know better: you want to become a manager, as if your will alone would be enough to make it happen. It feels natural too, like evolution: you’ve done your share of hard work and you feel ready to take on a new challenge. More responsibilities do not scare you, in fact you demand to have them.
That is why I am writing this now, more than 10 years after becoming a Manager for the first time: I wish someone would have sat me down and asked me these questions. They could have made me think my decisions beyond my short-term goals, maybe prepare myself better for the new role. Alas, that didn’t happen for me yet I made my way through it anyway.
Hopefully, this will help you in the process of understanding if this (becoming a Manager) is what you want.
Motivations, when too deep or personal, lack any logic. That’s what makes them good and dangerous at the same time. Change is a powerful force that drives us and yet we do not pay enough attention to it all too often. Sometimes that is the very origin of the thought that’s making you want to become someone’s boss.
Have you wondered why? Have you asked yourself why do you really want this change to happen? Taking aside your opinion about yourself (about your skills, your readiness, your experience), do you really know why you want to become a bigger fish?
It comes down to what is motivating you to go after that particular change. Why, for instance, do you want to become a Manager and not an independent consultant? Is it entirely career driven or is there something underneath it? Do not be afraid of questioning yourself further: it will help you understand why you want to change in that particular direction.
He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.
I don’t know how I would have answered this question myself, but I know it to be an important one. Before becoming a Manager all you have is an ideal that’s built by your impressions and observations on those Managers you’ve either worked for or with. The good and the bad ones. We tend to copy before we create something new. That also applies to doing something new as changing roles or becoming a different persona at work.
I don’t know what my answer would have been but I remember something that I can now recognize as the golden rule:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The only problem is that this moral question was too philosophical for me I approached more pragmatically: I’ll do to others what I wish had been done to me. That, translated into the actions I remember taking where being more of a friendly manager instead of an aggressive, being extremely transparent and always put people first.
You can see the problem there, can you? For a pragmatic approach, those actions were all too ideal. A few years into your new Manager role are enough to learn that heroes don’t live long lives. You will not be just responsible for those who work for you, their jobs and their results: you will be, more than ever, responsible for yours. You will still have a boss and you will be requested to make decisions that might make you doubt yourself. It can screw your moral compass but you can learn a lot from it.
A Manager is formed not by his or her ideas, but by the actions they commit to.
The question is tricky. It is not meant to demotivate though and it does not imply you will fail. The reasoning is one that we usually don’t do because of the connotation of the word “fail”. We do not ask ourselves “are we ready to succeed?” either, but we try to anyway. No one works to fail unless failure implies success. Truth be told, we work in one direction alone: we go where we think success is. Becoming a Manager, getting the promotion that makes you one or that new job where you applied feels like success already: you got it. You made it happen.
You walk away from failure as you walk into your new role…or so you think. In my own experience, 2 out of 5 new managers won’t make it through their first year. One out of 3 will get a promotion within 24 months of their first assignment and the other 2 will take longer to settle into the role.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the Courage to continue that counts.
Failure, as much as success is a probability to be noted when you accept that new job. It must be acknowledged, weighted. You must go into that new job with a clear mind and if possible no fears. I was dead scared on my first day yet I thought I would do wonderfully. I lasted a little over 12 months in that job…but I took on the next assignment knowing what had happened: I had failed. I then focused on why that had happened and called it a lesson.
Failing to admit failure is the first step into failing after all.
Also published on Medium.