Have you ever wondered what it means to be a manager? Managers rarely do, and I can’t blame you since most of us rarely wonder about what it means to be what we already are. We just are.

However, sometimes, it’s good to stop and take a better look at who and what you are as a professional. You should truly consider what it means to be in the position you are because it will help you be a much better manager. Remember, there is always room for improvement, no matter how good you know you are.

A Personal Example

As a professional individual contributor I was always able to focus on my most important work. So when I became a manager for the first time I resented all the meetings which took me away from the work I wanted to personally do. Then, one day, I had a breakthrough. I realized that I needed to have these meetings because the whole point of them is to give enough context to my subordinates. I realized this context was essential for them because it enabled them not only to do a better job but also to have more access to me for problem solving.

Having more access enabled them to solve more problems on their own because they had enough context to make decision and take initiatives. As a result, I was more confident that they were all working in harmony. During these meetings I was also able to clear the way for them, when needed, and to coach them on some tougher issues they were facing.

It was great for a while, but it didn’t take long to realize that all I was doing was these meetings. They took so much of my time that I wasn’t able to concentrate on my own value-added work. I ended up doing it in the evenings outside of work time and on airplanes.

How to Solve Your Problems

When you take a look at my situation, you soon realize that managerial work is all about balance. You need to meet with and be available to your team. You also need to protect enough time for value-added work as this also matters. This is the work, in addition to your managerial leadership work, that only you can do. If you don’t do this work, it won’t get done, and your work unit will not be as successful as it could be. Of course, you also need to be accessible to your team, or they won’t be able to be as good as you need them to be.

To create this balance, you need to:

  • Make plans in advance
  • Find enough time for value-added work without getting distracted by day-to-day activity
  • Set context for subordinates but also set boundaries so you can concentrate on value-added work without being disturbed
  • Effectively delegate as much work to your subordinates as you can, and as much as they can do effectively
  • Create proper feedback loops so that communication is at the highest level within the organization
You can learn more about this by looking into the 5 Requirements of Effective Managers.

Now here is the twist. You need to realize that, by definition, you will never finish your to-do list. You will simply not have the time to do everything that you would like to do in any given work day.  It’s all about setting priorities and doing what matters first and then the rest if possible. That’s why planning is crucial to your role as a manager. It enables you to create that focus that is consistent with your manager’s plan.

This advice about being a good manager applies to every manager in an organization – including the owner ! Your priorities and the priorities of your team need to be consistent with where the owner want to take the company. That connection between plans needs to flow from the owner right down to the front line managers. Only that way will each manager in the organization, working collaboratively and with focus be able to create effective managers and an enable a highly successful organization.

What It Means to Be a ManagerLearn more about the manager’s role in driving employee engagement in the complimentary white paper: Empowerment 4.0, The Employee Engagement Solution that Works!

Download a complimentary copy here: Empowerment 4.0 Whitepaper


Dwight is leading a 7-week Flevy Executive Learning (FEL) program on effective management called Empowerment 4.0. Learn more about this course here. For the month of October you can save 75% on enrollment.

Learn More
Or check out this free webinar for the high level overview. Sign up for the free webinar here.

We can help you create and sustain a high performance organization.
You can also check out our Engagement Infographic here. Or email me to set up a call.