[#OPINION] The non easy path from Managers to Leaders


There is plenty of books, posts, etc. related to the “managers problem”. Besides the unnecessary bureaucracy and hierarchy levels that are usually added within an organization, managers jobs tend to be the main rope to the neck which a professional can face at some point in this career. I usually told the story of my friend Pablo, as the clearest example of a career evolution

  • Paul was a great professional who one day decided to devote himself to the noble art of vegetable arrangement in the local market in the village
  • After 2 years, Paul was the best vegetables organizer in the market
  • The people who worked with Paul started to came to him to ask his view about the best way to organize vegetables
  • After a while the happiness of Pablo began to fall, in their working day he didn’t have time to arrange vegetables, he was devoted to help his teammates to organize vegetables
  • The owner of the market, when he saw this situation, thought that the best thing that could be done was to create a manager role for Paul. He will be dedicated to manager a team who arrange vegetables
  • At first glance, this seemed a “career development” for Paul, so I accept the challenge with lot of desire
  • After a year of being in this role, Paul realized that
    • He wasn’t really prepared to manage a team. Manage accounts, talk to the suppliers of the orchards and control the schedules of the people, was not something he liked
    • Paul just wanted to arrange vegetables! When he failed to do this work, his morale went down
    • With the low morale, Paul didn’t give his best in his work
  • … you can imagine the next steps in the story

As well, this classic-sounding incompetence of Peter principle (link) tends to be used as an example to demonstrate the low value of managers in organizations. What it seems to be a natural step in the career of a person, can become a very difficult wall. Personally, I have seen many examples of this kind: people who hold positions with responsibility for a team, but who lack the skills necessary to performs this role.

Now, if ever think on this with the point of view of a team I always ask myself: Do I really want to work with a person who only wants to perform one role?. I know I don’t.

I think that subject specialization is essential to have an agile and focused mind, while learning something new and play different roles in a team also helps to grow as a professional. In 15 years I have been in computer science I have performed a lot of roles. This has helped me to not became the best in a specific subject, however it also gave me enough perspective to be able to say things like Why not use branches or not add unnecesary tools. When I say this for the first time, more than one came to me to fight. Lucky me, after 5 years specializing in ALM, my reasoning had a bit of foundation.

When I hear people complaining of Managers jobs, many times I wonder if these criticisms are based on the experience or it is simply criticize as an sport. Anyone who has taken a position of “manager”, learns that, regardless of the technical skills needed to lead a team, there are some other skills which are fundamental. This is the ideal time to stop talking about managers and start talking about leaders, which is the ideal term for people who lead a team. For example, in the case of the leaders, I’m going to share 3 skills that are fundamental

  • Generosity. About this one, I more difference nowadays: “leaders of the old school” who believe that information is power. The basis of his bad leadership is summed up in “if we triumph, the team triumph; If we fail the failure is of the team”. Good leaders understand that equality and transparency in a team is a fundamental aspect.
  • Transparency. Related to the previous point. Leaders which are not transparent with information are destined to fail. 10 years ago it was a model that worked. However, today where everything is shared, all published, models are open and collaborative, a manager should adapt to this model; or the team will leave him.
  • Passion. This is fundamental, a person who lead a team has to have passion for the work. When a person demonstrates passion for his work, it is certain that passion will be transmitted to your computer. Take care that the same goes for the apathy.

This list could continue to grow and add topics as know to listen and know to ask. The number of managers who have their against their noses awkward situations and do not know how something as simple as listening is amazing and ask can help reach a solution. Others such as understanding body language, or have courage are also skills that a leader must have. But these topics are for another post with a title that sounds to “People Skills for a Leader”

Greetings @ Home

/El Bruno

Wikipedia, Peters Principle

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