154: The Differential of Managing Managers

So much of managing people is the same because humans have the same fundamental needs and desires. It’s important for all managers to provide appropriate levels of autonomy, foster their team’s professional growth, and support their people by providing guidance and helping to remove roadblocks. But as you move up in the hierarchy, there are a few important nuances that can help you better focus your time and energy.

The full episode guide includes an infographic of the differences between managers and senior managers, along with suggested practices for shifting into the mindset of a senior manager, leading skip-level meetings, and more. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community or purchase the full guide at www.themodernmanager.com/shop.

Get the free mini-guide at themodernmanager.com/miniguides-list.

Read the related blog article: How Do You Manage Managers?

Key Takeaways:

  • The majority of managing people is the same no matter what level of management you’re in.
  • There are three primary areas in which a senior manager’s role will be different from a manager’s role and these are: (1) driving towards big picture results, (2) cultivating the manager’s management capability, and (3) clarifying guidelines.
  • As senior management, you will be looking at things from a higher perch and trying to see how day to day activities flow towards the overall goals of the organization.
  • Focus on setting clear vision, goals and strategy. Then enhance the thinking of your managers without getting into the details.
  • Provide plenty of autonomy to allow your managers and their team members to develop and execute on workplans.
  • As a rule of thumb, spend as much time investing in your people as you do overseeing the work.
  • If you haven’t invested in building culture, spent time talking about values, or elevated the importance of upholding desired behaviors, it’s unlikely that your managers will either.
  • Role model the behavior you want your managers to do with their team members. Ask for their input, provide straightforward feedback, offer praise and gratitude.
  • Build relationships with your managers’ direct reports so you can better support your manager to develop their people.
  • Show your managers’ direct reports that you respect and trust their manager (your direct report) by asking for their input and treating them like a partner when in meetings together.


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