5 Deadly Sins Of A First Time Manager


You’ve finally made it to that coveted level of manager. This is the promotion you’ve been vying for and now it’s a reality. You get to manage someone BUT are you ready. For most first time managers, who are 5-10 years into their career, you haven’t been exposed to leadership or coaching training. Instead you are left to navigate the murky waters of “how to manage” on your own. This isn’t surprising given today’s frenetic work environment. And in many financially challenged industries, it seems that leadership development is becoming less and less a priority. Therefore, unhealthy leadership dynamics are unwittingly present in full force.

Like many newly minted managers, you fall prey to the 5 Deadly Sins of a Manager. The focus is on “I” vs. “we”. For the most part, it’s not your fault; the transition from doer to manager is significant. And today, it gets even more complicated because very few are truly full-time managers. You are playing dual roles of doing and managing. However, it can be very important to identify destructive patterns. A simple way to do that might be by finding a helpful page that talks about such topics. Failure to recognize such traits can result in erratic behavior.

I recently conducted a coaching skills workshop for new managers and I had the chance to vet this theory. What became apparent to the group is that many of these are cultural norms that reside within highly competitive industries. Here they are:

#1: I have to add value. The overwhelming need to prove you are “smart” and justify your newly anointed position.

Instead, you can make space for your direct reports to feel smart and accomplished. In turn, they will respect you for creating the opportunity for them to add value.

#2: I have to speak first. There is a race to be the first person to speak and to be heard.

Instead, allow your direct report to speak first and listen to what they have to say. You’ll get a sense of their thought process and you might just learn something.

#3: I must have the answer. You may feel that as the manager you must have all the answers.

Instead, take some pressure off yourself and open up the dialog with your direct report to find the answer together. They’ll be more vested in the solution and what it will take to get the job done.

#4: I’m the boss, just do as I say. Everyone dreads working for this person and I don’t think you want to be him or her.

Instead of laying down the law, manage by influence with a sound rationale and an open dialog.

#5: I don’t have time to coach. Many in the workshop lamented that they just don’t have time for a coaching conversation. It’s easier to tell people what to do.

Instead, they were pleasantly surprised by how effective a 3-minute coaching conversation can be and how much better they felt afterwards.

Ok, these aren’t deadly nor are they sins. However, they are typical pitfalls that can inhibit your leadership potential as a new (and not so new) manager.

I’d like to know what you think. Do you agree with these? Are there others?