The Key Role for the Managers of Managers

Friday evening I had dinner with a friend and we inevitably landed up talking about managers who struggle. My friend accurately identified the problem. Instead of managers developing people to take leadership positions, they often have an open position into which they hire because of all the wrong reasons, primarily just to fill the position. No thought is given to what the skills required to succeed in the position or consideration of what the demands of the position will be. This is ultimately a recipe for failure. If the right person for the management job is not developed and trained with the skills for the position, the endeavor will be a costly one.

This is also true for promoting a front-line manager into a manager of managers position.

There is a distinct difference between front line managers and managers who have to manage managers. Front line managers are there to supervise operations and the operators. The manager of managers’ key role is to develop people. A good read on the topic is The Leadership Pipeline by Charan, Dotter and Noel.

The focus  of the manager of managers should be on developing those front-line managers to learn how to manage people. They also need to give front-line managers opportunities to stretch and experience roles that include managing peers on projects or as team leaders on projects. This gives them the exposure of managing people in higher positions than at the operator level. If these leaders do not develop the skill to manage mangers, the leadership pipeline will dry up and they will find themselves promoting people who have not learned what their key role is and not having a clue on how to develop people to that level. The result is the leadership struggles my friend and I were discussing.

Prevent losing talent because of not understanding the specific roles of leadership in all levels of management.

I will be providing regular information to help you develop your people at the level of front-line management and to help you develop the skills needed to keep a healthy leadership pipeline.

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