So You Want to be a Manager! Better Yet, a Leader…


You are sitting at your desk at eight o’clock in the evening, wondering how you ended up working for someone who knows less than you know, doing his or her bidding for less money than you are worth, and working late in the bargain. That’s when it hits you. You should be the boss. You have done your time in the trenches, and you have all the skills and knowledge you need to do the job. But do you?

Being a manager means managing people as well as projects and tasks and not everyone is up to the challenge. There may be important skills you have not considered during all your hours of daydreaming. And you may have to take on tasks that you do not like. Sure, you probably do things in your current job that you’d prefer to avoid, but you don’t have anyone to whom you can delegate these tasks.

As a manager, you imagine yourself happily making assignments and walking out the door at 5:00 p.m. But, is that really what the world of a manager is like? And, then there are those leadership skills everyone talks about. How do you get people to want to listen to you and follow your direction? Can you be a good manager and a good leader? Suddenly, this whole management thing is starting to sound troubling.

Take a close look at this checklist. How many of these skills and preferences do you have? Be honest!

  • I am not afraid to make a decision
  • I am well organized and disciplined
  • I like working with people
  • I think that teams make better decisions than individuals
  • I enjoy coaching, training and teaching others
  • I am not afraid of confrontation
  • I have good negotiating skills
  • I am willing to take risks to achieve my goals
  • I can see the ‘big picture’ and the small tasks that will get results
  • I have vision and can influence others to see and share that vision
  • I am willing to make mistakes
  • I can set goals and achieve them on time and on budget
  • I provide clear direction to others
  • I like detail
  • I like ‘blue sky’ thinking
  • I can be honest and firm in personal discussions
  • I value a well-rounded employee
  • I can work with diverse groups of people from various cultures and organizational levels
  • I enjoy leading and participating in teams
  • I am not afraid to talk to high-level executives
  • I enjoy working with people at all levels in the organization
  • I am good with numbers and can manage budgets
  • I enjoy presenting concepts and ideas to a group
  • I can take criticism
  • I am fair and honest in evaluating others
  • I like to share my success with others
  • I like to work hard
  • I don’t mind rolling up my sleeves to help the team succeed
  • I can tackle the controversial issues and still achieve a ‘win-win’ outcome
  • I know how to set and manage objectives
  • I am good at problem solving
  • I like to learn new things
  • I think it is important to focus on continuous improvement
  • I know how to measure results and understand the importance of Return on Investment (ROI)
  • I accept setbacks and keep on trying
  • I genuinely believe that most people try to do the best job they can
  • I still have dreams
  • I know that I don’t know everything and never will
  • My performance evaluations are consistently high

So, how did you do? If you were able to place a check-mark next to more than half of these questions, you have more skill than a lot of managers. If you were able to check 70 or 75% of the items, you have good potential as a leader, as well.

So, why are you still sitting at your desk daydreaming? Possibly because you are a well-kept secret. You are smart and have great skills but no one knows who you are. You have to market yourself; be visible.

Here are a few ways to get noticed to help your chances to become a manager:

  • Take the project no one else wants and make it a success
  • Work hard, not just in hours, but by giving thought and focus to all that you do
  • Have a positive attitude and listen to others during discussions
  • Don’t just describe the problem. Come up with a solution! Better yet, come up with several and then suggest the one you think is best.
  • Work on teams to meet specific goals, and lead the team if you can
  • Write specific goals and objectives with target dates and measure your success against these goals
  • Make presentations at work or in a community setting to improve your speaking and presentation skills
  • Fill in the gaps in your skills and background by taking specific training at work or by taking classes at a local college or completing your degree
  • Learn the art of listening. Don’t do all the talking
  • Read! All great leaders are voracious readers, and read on numerous subjects, not just on business.

Choose a mentor at work and make it someone who has all the skills and style you want to acquire. Formalize the relationship and meet with them often to talk about how to approach issues and problems you are facing in your current job and how to get to where you want to go in your career.

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