8 Myths about Management

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Published 4/2/2015

The decision to become a manager is an important one and should not be taken lightly. It’s important to do some self-reflection, and examine your values and true motivations.

See “Three Questions you MUST Answer before Becoming a Manager.”

It’s also important to make this decision based on facts, not misperceptions. Here's a list of some of the common “myths” about management, along with the reality.

Myth number one: The best performer on the team is the most qualified to be the manager.

Reality: The skills that lead to success as an individual contributor are very different from those needed to manage. It’s true that top performers usually are the first ones to be considered for promotion – and they should be. High performance should be a pre-requisite for promotion to a manager, but it shouldn’t be the only consideration. The ability to enable others to improve their performance becomes even more important. High performers often have never struggled in a job, and have no idea why anyone wouldn’t have the same work ethic and want to succeed like they have.

Many new managers are frustrated to discover that the same skills that made them the best individual contributor don’t work when it comes to managing others.

See “Ten Reasons Why Superstar Employees Make Lousy Managers.”

Myth number two: Managers get to order people around.

Reality: Managers do have more power, authority, status, and access, but these privileges do not guarantee that a manager has influence. High achievers usually do what their managers ask them to do. Then, when they get promoted, they find out that’s not always the case with their former peers or new team.

Influencing the actions of direct reports is just one type of influence. A manager also has to rely on their power of persuasion and collaborative skills to influence peers and others as well.

Myth number three: Managers are mean, and care about nothing but the bottom line.

Reality: Leaders care about the success of others and the success of the business. While it may be true that managers can’t be friends with their employees, they can be and often are respectful, caring, and fair. They realize that’s the only way to ensure long-term, sustainable high performance.

Myth number four: Managers have a lot of freedom.

Many new managers believe they'll have far more freedom to make decisions and take action than they had as individual contributors. Some may also assume that they'll have more free time than before, because they'll have direct reports to handle a lot of the work that needs doing.

Reality: Managers often have far less freedom to act alone than they might have anticipated. There’s a lot more people to look out after, influence, and add to their network. There’s a whole new set of duties, obligations, and relationships. I’m sure there a lot of CEOs and business owners that sometimes long for the days when they were starting out and had more freedom.

Myth number five: Managers make more money than individual contributors, and

Myth number six: Managers make less money than individual contributors.

Reality: It really depends. Commission salespeople, artists, athletes, and scientists often make more than their managers. Management doesn’t always mean more money – it’s just a different type of work that requires different skills. As a general rule of thumb, more money usually comes with greater responsibility.

Myth number seven: You can prepare to be a good manager by taking a training course or reading books.

Reality: While you can learn a lot through training or reading, it’s also important to:

-Get as much practical experience as you can. Look for off the job leadership opportunities, get practice leading meetings and interviewing, practice your influence and relationship building skills, and be seen as a leader well before you’re promoted
-Observe and learn from other managers. Watch what the good ones do and ask them how they do it and why. And of course, learn what not to do from the bad ones.
-Courses are books will help, but it won’t truly sink in until you have a chance to apply what you’re learned.

Myth number eight: A manager needs to be the smartest person on the team.

Reality: I actually heard a senior manager say this in a training program. I wanted to set my hair on fire! First of all, it’s incredibly arrogant to think any one person could know more about every job on a team than the people hired to do those do jobs. That is, unless the manager has hired a team of village idiots!

Also, although a reasonable amount of intelligence (IQ) is essential to be a successful manager, an extremely high IQ is not a predictor of leadership success. In fact, it could even be a detriment. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a much more accurate predictor of leadership success.