Consultant’s advice: Mythological portrait of a manager
Having left a company, a manager successfully climbs the career ladder in another industry. The vacant position is then filled by a new manager, brilliant at first sight, but in half a year already his inefficiency is evident. Such cases take place very often. Trying to find out the reasons we analyzed the evaluation system applied to top managers. It turned out that very often employers count not on the worthiest employees, but on those ones whose achievements are most noticeable. Employees’ abilities are judged according to stereotypes, false convictions and myths. We tried to analyze the most common of them.
Manager must have professional experience in this or similar industry. For some positions, for example, for operations manager, it is really necessary. However understanding of job specificity is not enough for being an outstanding leader. Such managers are indispensable specialists, but their career development stops at the operational management level limited to functional specialization. Top manager should better possess strategic vision, know business principle, be able to gather strong people around him. The best proof of manager’s effectiveness is successful mastering of some other sphere of industry. There is a lot of such examples: switch from food production over to media and telecommunication assets management, switch from an international FMCG company over to aircraft business, switch from the position of manager of chocolate and animal food manufacturing business planning over to the position of financial expert in a cement holding company, etc.
One of the skills which significance is often overestimated by employers is the ability to work in a team. Managers that are guided only by their colleagues’ and direct reports’ opinions rarely become good leaders. Such executives value psychological comfort and gather favourable people around them. It can take place in successful, stable companies, but in dynamic environment the deliberative character of management makes business clumsy. Effective leaders take into consideration other opinions but solve many tasks independently. They are not afraid of gathering strong people with different characters and temperaments. Such teams that have opportunity to operate quickly and aggressively break through most brightly. Business environment in Russia often looks like a battle field, where the leader plays the part of a referee in corporate duels reserving the right of last word.
In spite of wishes and ideas, leaders do not practice mentoring and training of their direct reports. Although managers are interested in team professional development, they do not devote much time to it. Wise delegation of authority from higher management to employees on lower positions is the best training. In turn, talented people value opportunities to work in strong teams, learning both from managers and from colleagues.
Excessive “star disease” and ability to sell oneself are often mixed up with professionalism and career orientation. Leader must be brilliant, he must be able to inspire people and lead them. However these qualities can be non-obvious at first sight, you can seldom find a really effective manager behind the ostentatious magnificence and enthusiasm. Grandstand play becomes more effective way to career advancement than modesty. Naturally, a bit of pathos is essential for manager. But, having reached the top of corporate hierarchy, many people forget to take off the mask created by themselves.
This myth is strongly connected with the previous one. It is based on the idea that eloquence guarantees professionalism of its owner. Certainly, an ability to stay calm in front of an audience is a very useful quality, but not all talented managers can perform well. The main thing is to be able to convince, when the conversation requires silence, - only in this case the real talent of a speaker can show itself. Quite often, meeting with managers whose reputation in the market is evident, following the results of negotiations and the references of their ex-colleagues, one can make sure that they are not effective enough to solve professional tasks. That is why a manager who performs at conferences, delivers lectures in universities, communicates actively with the media is not necessarily a professional. Many effective managers are totally against performances and comments in press, however the companies that are lead by them are most successful in their niches. As well as the importance of their management skills depends not on publicity, but on achievements.
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