So You Wanna Be a Manager…

Betsy Boehm Bland
5 min readFeb 8, 2019
Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts — so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people — we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected. — Brene Brown

When someone tells me they are interested in becoming a manager, I am simultaneously excited and skeptical. I want to make sure they really understand their motives and what they’re getting into. Once I know they’re not just in it for the title, I work with them to assess their current strengths, growth opportunities, and management maturity. Some of the things I look for:

  • How self-aware are they? Do they see themselves accurately?
  • How well do they handle conflict?
  • Are they able to work with others?
  • Can they delegate and teach?
  • Do they have realistic expectations of what it means to manage?

Management and leadership is a never-ending adventure that requires ongoing work to do well. Everyone has room to grow. I just want to understand our starting point. Depending on where that is, here are some skill areas and corresponding resources I typically recommend over time as a learning path, adjusting to their specific situation.

Know Thyself

Leaders must tackle their own issues before they can effectively help others. To help with this, I usually recommend:

  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. It is a great resource on how to better understand yourself, work through why you want to be a leader, and how to lead from the heart.
  • Visionary/Operator/Processor/Synergyst Testing by Predictable Success. I’ve found this helps leaders understand their own styles and how they may complement or conflict with their team.
  • Talk therapy. Many people should take some time to work with a trained therapist to reach a healthy level of self-awareness and address ongoing issues. The more they understand themselves and how they react to situations, the more…

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Betsy Boehm Bland

Product Experience Team Lead and Designer | Mission Driven, User-Focused