Are good managers born or made?

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“And yet, not everyone is cut out for a role that requires setting aside doing the work of the firm in favor of empowering others to do the work. But can anyone, with enough desire and proper training, become a manager? In other words, are good managers born or made? …

The easiest approach, and some might say the most meritocratic … is to give the management role to the best performer in the role below — a management theory popularly known as the Peter Principle. ‘The problem is that … the competitiveness to win that often makes [an individual] the best performer is directly at odds with the requirements of managing other people and trying to get them to succeed …’

As individuals, we think success looks like a bigger title and more money …

Leadership can be learned, Vanderslice notes. ‘But my conclusion after 40 years of working with leaders is that there are a few core qualities that a person comes with that are the harder things to strengthen,’ she says. ‘Not impossible, but really challenging. And the big one for me is a personal, deep level of self confidence. And by that I don’t mean, ‘Hey, I can beat my chest because I’m so good.’ I mean real self confidence — a deep sense of personal security. If someone doesn’t have that, they are not going to be invested in others because they are too worried about themselves.’ …

Managers must learn to appreciate how distinctive each individual is in what they want from work and what animates them to work well, Useem notes. ‘As a company manager, for instance, you may learn that one employee wants to be home by 5 p.m. for family time with no after-hours obligations, while another is ready to shoulder far greater responsibility,’ he says. “Coming to appreciate — and then manage — the great diversity in human motivation and purpose is essential for anybody going into management, and that requires becoming a lifelong student of human nature.'”


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