Not everyone can be the manager
People tend to think that the natural progression of a corporate job is management. It’s almost a perfect formula: start at the bottom, put in 5 to 10 years, become a manager. And if you have extraordinary ability, move up into a VP, Director, or C-level role.
In speaking with candidates, the current mindset seems to be that they are ready for management, or rather, they deserve management. Not everyone can be Manager, and not everyone has the chops to effectively do it.
The ideal manager is somebody that has an innate tendency towards leadership, and through their sheer attraction and willpower, can convince others to follow them. Others are inspired to take action on their behalf. There are only a handful of leaders in world history who fully achieved this ideal (Napoleon, Caesar, Washington) . In a corporation, these are the types of people you notice right away that are destined for leadership. There’s an aura about them that exudes confidence and influence.
Believing that it is your turn, or that you put in enough time at the company as a qualifier for leadership, is pervasive. It does make sense from a strictly “promote the most senior colleague” point of view, but it might not be the most effective. After all, those that have been there the longest likely know the business the best, the rationale goes.
Now, the worst reason people become managers is that some people just don’t want to grind anymore. If you are in sales, you don’t want to knock on doors or make cold calls. It’s not necessarily negative to want out of that daily struggle, but moving into management to avoid it doesn’t seem like a noble cause. It’s a harsh way to look at it, but we’ve all worked long enough to know this is a reality that can’t be denied.
Here are some questions to ask potential managers:
- Why do you want to be in management?
- What are the skills that qualify you for management?
- What is your management style?
- In your mind, who exemplifies great leadership?
- Will you step in for an underling and do a “low-level” task?
- What is your day-to-day plan for personal and professional growth?
Using these questions, you should be able to get a good sense of whether this person is destined for leadership, or if they are hoping for management to “get out of the trenches.” The goal here is to find out if a potential managers has genuine intentions towards leadership.
P.S. You can use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to assess potential managers. The science behind Type and leadership has been proven out.