As your career progresses, it becomes less about your own technical abilities and more about your ability to get the best out of others. Here are five managerial skills that will earmark you as a future C-suite high-flyer.
Keep thinking like a newbie
Zen Buddhists prize ‘beginner’s mind’, which roughly translates to observing situations without any limiting preconceptions. The experts at the Harvard Management Review also believe it’s useful to regularly look at established processes with fresh eyes, advising, “Fire yourself. What would you do differently if this were your first day on the job?”
It’s very easy to slip into the habit of passively adopting established systems as your career progresses, but the way to make your mark is to be constantly asking, “Is this really the best way to do this?”
Granted, it’s a risky strategy to be determinedly unconventional early on in your career, but once you’ve established you’re competent, you can afford to be a little more out there. Just perhaps not before your first six-month review.
Striking out from the by-the-book way of managing can pay dividends, says executive coach Michael Holland. “Normal managers feel unproductive when some of their back-to-back meetings are cancelled for the day. Weird managers invest cancelled meeting time with walking and talking among their employees.”
Remember, being a maverick never hurt the likes of Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson.
Get into this habit from day one of your career. If there’s an admin assistant – or even someone who’s in the same role as you but a little more inexperienced – that you’re able to farm out some of your grunt work to, do so. Yes, they probably won’t do it exactly the way you would have, but as long as it’s done to an acceptable standard they’ll be learning useful skills while freeing you up to concentrate on higher-value tasks.
“You really want to give people the flexibility to manage their own time relative to their own work deadlines and strike their own dynamic in terms of how to be spending their time,” says Google executive Jonathan Rosenberg to the MIT Technology Review.
Socrates once observed, “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” The modern, corporate equivalent might be: “Junior staff with strong prospects of rising in the organisation are always diplomatic, junior staff with weak prospects of advancement slag off the boss, their colleagues and the firm’s clients, mistakenly believing their words will never come back to haunt them.”
Keep on learning
Once you've finished uni, aced a job interview and passed the probation period at that prestigious graduate position you lined up, it can be very tempting to think you’re home and hosed. But if you're not learning anything new, chances are you're stagnating. One of the best ways to ramp up your knowledge base and skill set is to investigate the possibility of undertaking postgraduate tax education.
It’s never too early to start preparing for the day you move into the corner office. Cultivate good habits from the get-go and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when you’re given your own team to manage.
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