Management positions are crucial to the growth of organizations. People filling these roles, the managers, need to have strategic skills, lead team members, draw budgets, build and sustain relationships with individuals higher up in the hierarchy, and even be ambassadors for the company. Pretty much all-rounders. The challenge: is everyone ready for this?

According to career counselor and executive coach, Anna Ranieri, a great place to start this journey would be to understand what each employee perceives management to be. Though there is general consensus around what it takes to be a manager, Ranieri set out to gain more perspective. Here’s what she gathered.

Dr. Jim Mitchelle, ex-Vice President of Oracle, believes that management is all about the people skills, mostly empathy and self-knowledge. In fact, lack of empathy deems leaders ineffective. The Center for Creative Leadership studied 6,731 leaders from 38 countries, and found that there is a positive relationship between empathy and job performance. Empathy boosts corporate results too. The top 10 businesses among 160 in a 2015 Global Empathy Index, generated 50% more net income per employee than the bottom 10.

Martin Brauns, CEO of Interwoven Inc., agrees that emotional intelligence is what makes a successful management hire. He also says that hiring managers should observe ‘horizon’- an individual’s ability to look beyond the current task or immediate situation, have a vision for the future and understand how to implement big-picture thinking. If you find that you are the big picture person, yet are more inclined towards the smaller details, a powerful practice is to have a work buddy who embodies the other style.

Keeping the above context in mind, Ranieri offers the following set of questions to assess someone’s readiness to take on a manager’s role:

  1. What kind of management experience do you have? This could span from arranging a class picnic in college, to babysitting younger siblings, or even being the editor for a school magazine!
  2. How do you develop your self-awareness in order to move a team or project forward?
  3. How would you prepare to move from your current role into the role of team manager?
  4. How would you balance the big-picture goals and your team’s everyday implementation of them?
  5. What would be a fair assessment of your people skills? Where are your edges and strengths?

A realistic approach to hiring a manager is definitely to acknowledge that not everyone will have the desired package of skills. How much room can you allow for learning some key skills? As Tom Northup says, “No great manager or leader ever fell from heaven, it’s learned not inherited.”

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