Am I Able to . . .? The Aspiring Manager’s Self-Checklist

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always had a passion for leading people. In high school, I was appointed to be a mentor to freshmen and was a leader on the student council. In college, I led committees in student organizations, served as an instructor and business tutor, and was responsible for leading as a vice president and director of recruitment for our collegiate SHRM chapter. Leading people has always been something that has brought an immense amount of joy to my life. But it hasn’t always been easy.  

During the summer before my last semester in college, I was tasked with leading a project team for an entire summer as an intern in a large corporation. This team was a group of professionals who had decades more experience than me and were far more qualified than me in many ways. But my manager had empowered me with the responsibility to make decisions for this group and delegate certain responsibilities to individual members. Although I had always had a desire to be a manager, I learned some valuable lessons that summer about making decisions, leading team meetings, holding touch point meetings, and holding people accountable for their tasks. It was a summer that I’ll never forget, as it gave me my first glimpse into what managing people looked like. Since then, I’ve taken those lessons and applied them to leadership positions I’ve held. 

Are you an aspiring manager? If so, I would encourage you to ask yourself these five questions before you take the leap into your first management role. 

Am I Able to Let Others Do Work for Me? 

“It will take me twice as long to teach someone how to do it as it will to do it myself.” 

Does this phrase sound familiar? The reality is that you can’t be a one-person show. There are only a limited number of hours in the day and many things to get accomplished. To effectively lead a team and manage people, you must able to allow others to do the work that you could do yourself. 


Am I Able to Teach Others?  

To be able to let others do the work that you could do yourself, you may have to teach others your knowledge and your strategies for completing certain tasks. Are you able to be patient and transfer knowledge to your employees in a way that is empowering, relatable, and understandable? Teaching others is a core competency of managing and leading people. 

Am I Able to Give Credit Away? 

It is a reality that the performance of your department or division is a representation of your leadership, but that doesn’t give you the authority to take all the credit. A core competency of being a ground floor leader is recognizing that your employees are the ones who make the results happen. Giving credit to your people is an important part of building trust and keeping your employees engaged, two goals that every manager should have.  

Am I Able to Make Objective Decisions? 

Emotions are a part of business, particularly if you are running or leading a company. But the mark of a great leader is to be able to separate the needs of the business from personal emotions to make objective decisions and asking, as the movie Office Space depicts, “Is this good for the company?”  

Am I Able to Give Feedback Effectively?

Constructive criticism is an important part of an employee’s development as a professional and an individual. Are you able to tell someone what they did wrong without sounding insensitive, rude, or disrespectful? Giving feedback the right way, in the right form, and at the right time, is a critical skill in leading people.  

Feel like you are ready to take the leap into management? Join me on February 24 for a webcast on making the move to management as I answer some of your questions and help you determine if you are ready for a management role.

About the Author
Dan Schwartz is a university relations specialist with BKD CPAs and Advisors. In his role, Dan plays an active role in developing brand awareness through recruitment marketing, sourcing strategies, social media campaigns, report generation, and support of the university relations team. Dan has published articles, books, videos, and podcasts related to career development and leadership development. He is the author of TD at Work: Managing as a Ground Floor Leader, Winning Strategies: Achieving Success in the Classroom, Career and Life and is a contributing author to Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You'll Love.
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