Great managers are clear on their purpose and brand
Being a manager is not for everyone. It is important to ask yourself why you want to be a manager and to work out what contribution you can make in this role. You may discover during this process that you’d prefer to be a specialist or expert and if this is what excites you; be true to yourself and don’t try to be something you are not.
Clarifying your purpose involves being clear on your aspirations, strengths, skills and values.
Clarify your aspirations
Spend time thinking about what you’d ultimately like to achieve as a manager — what personal and career goals will it help you realize? What contribution would you like to make? What would you like people to be saying about you as a manager in 2–3 years’ time? What would you like them to say at the end of your career?
Discover your strengths
These are underlying qualities that naturally energize you, not just skills you have learned or competencies you’re good at. What do you love to do that you could do everyday without getting bored? For example, some managers are energized by being strategic and creative while others are more organized and detail oriented.
Build out your skills
Skills are learned abilities and behaviours that enable you to perform a task really well. It is important to build as much skill as possible in areas of strength as these are the things that will give you an edge over others when the next promotion opportunity comes up. These areas where your strengths and skills overlap are what we call your “sweet spots”, they are areas where you have opportunity to make the greatest contribution and impact at work.
Stay true to your values
Your values are the beliefs and principles that are important to you and guide your decisions and actions. People have different values, for example, some are ambitious and driven while others prioritize friendship and harmony. Being clear about your values and staying true to them is important, as it ensures you come across as trustworthy and genuine to others. It also prevents inner conflict and stress that occurs when people are trying to fit in with a set of values that simply doesn’t suit them.
Clarify and communicate your brand
Once you’ve got clarity on these areas, think about how you can bring most value to the team and organization:
• Where will you play at your very best?
• What difference would you like to make?
• In what areas do you require help/support where you are weaker?
Communicate your brand to co-workers and others outside work to get feedback so you can refine and build on it. Communicating your brand and staying true to it in the way you act everyday will build trust and ensure people understand where you can make the most difference.
About the Author
James has over 25 years’ experience working with leaders and organizations internationally to optimize their performance, talent and future success. He has worked with leaders from diverse sectors, countries and cultures. Clients have included Commvault, Equinor, Gilead Sciences, GSK, PhotoBox, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Novo Nordisk, Oracle, Sainsbury’s, Swiss Re, Tesco, Yahoo! and WSP.
James has set-up and successfully grown several of his own businesses, including Strengthscope®, a global strengths assessment and consulting business. As Joint Founder and MD, he grew Strengthscope® into a market leader before selling his stake in the business in 2018.
James is a regular speaker on leadership, coaching, assessing and developing talent and the future of work. He has contributed a wide range of publications in these areas. His most recent book, Optimize Your Strengths, explores how leaders can transform their organizations by inspiring people to shine and deliver exceptional results.
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