My impression of being a manager is that it's something you either want to do or something you hate doing. Some people I know began their careers with a management position (to be followed by a steady climb up the management ladder) as one of their main goals in life. For myself, I chose the technical path – I prefer to work on my own or as part of a team, but I really haven’t enjoyed being a manager on the several occasions when this dubious honor has been thrust upon me.
Not that I have anything against managers, you understand – someone has to do it (bless their little cotton socks) – and as long as my managers keep on giving me pay rises I'm all for them (grin).
Thinking back, I've known some really great managers in my time. I've also known a lot of mediocre managers along with a few absolute drongos. I recall one really dreadful manager (who shall remain nameless) from early in my career. This was the sort of guy who would try to take all of the glory. When we had visitors, for example, he would being them down to the lab to show them whatever system we were working on, and you could hear him saying things along the lines of "No one knew what to do; it looked like the project was going to be a disaster; and then I had a flash of inspiration and realized that we needed to lighten the tribulating grockles and reverse the oscillating field stabilizers." Then he would wander off with the visitors in tow. The bottom line was that this manager always did his best to grab all of the credit – he never acknowledged any of the contributions made by the people who worked for him.
By comparison, I recall one really amazing manager called Peter Miles from my days at Cirrus Designs in Manchester, England (Cirrus Designs was eventually acquired by GenRad). If Peter were to bring visitors into our lab, you would hear him saying things like "Well, everything is working now and exceeding our expectations, but this is all due to my amazing team. For example, we couldn’t work out how to graunch down the tattle-butts, but then our new intern John came up with a really cunning solution. Look, here's John now – John, come over here for a moment will you…" Then Peter would introduce the young engineer John to the visitors and sing his praises, and John would spend the rest of the day walking around with a great big beaming smile on his face. The thing was that, although Peter always made out that it was the team who had done everything, it was obvious to anyone with eyes to see that he was the enabler of his team's success.
I've known (and still know) managers who have reached their level of mediocrity and who are scared of losing their position (or worried about some other thing), so they hire people who are less able than themselves and they actively try to hobble anyone who shines brighter. By comparison, I've also known managers who always try to attract the brightest and best to their teams, irrespective of whether those people are intellectually or technically superior, because they know that if the team shines then everyone wins. Which manager do you think is the more successful in the long run? Which manager would you rather work for?
The reason I'm waffling on about this here is that I just finished reading Empower Your Inner Manager by Ian Mackintosh, who president of OCP-IP. Ian earned his Master of Science degree in microelectronics from Southampton University in England, so he "knows his onions" on the technical side of the fence. Ian also has executive management experience across the board, from start-up companies to large corporations, so he also knows what he's talking about when it comes to management. [Of course, the fact that you are a manager doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a good manager – but I know Ian personally and he is a good one.]
Now, there are a mind-boggling number of management books out there, but most of them focus on how to learn different aspects of management, like time management, or how to motivate, or how to delegate or … stuff like that. Ian's book is different. What this book does is:
- List the most-significant skills and behaviors possessed by well-developed managers.
- Explain the specifics involved in mastering these skills (it doesn’t teach you how to develop the skills you lack, but it suggests where you can go and what you can do to remedy the situation).
- Help you to determine your own strengths and weaknesses regarding the various skills.
- Help you determine those skills you need to personally target in order to support your immediate growth and career needs.
- Help you design a self-improvement plan to target specific positions and to manage your progress along your chosed career path.
- Provide you with the ongoing ability to revisit and reassess your growth needs as they evolve in the future.
As Ian says: "Competition for management jobs continues to intensify with each passing year. If you are betting your financial welfare on your next management position and subsequent promotions, you will now need to be much better prepared to capture those increasingly scares opportunities than you might previously have realized."Empower Your Inner Manager
is of interest to just about anyone who wishes to move into a management role, or who is already established on the management ladder. In the case of someone who wishes to become a manager, this book will set you on the right path by teaching you what you need to know and showing you how to determine what areas you need to focus on. If you are already a manager, this book will help you identify those areas in which you are strong, and those which could use some improvement.
Although I personally have no interest whatsoever in becoming a manager myself, I'm all for managers becoming better at what they do, because that will make the world a better place for the rest of us. So if you want to be a manager – or if you have already donned the undergarments of authority and stride the corridors of power – I would really appreciate it if you would read this book.
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