I remember well when, a little more than three years ago, I was asked to manage WorldsView Academy’s Licensed Interventions portfolio. Over the preceding few months we had been devising the new structure of WVA. The Interventions portfolio would be one of four product lines, the others Software, Academics and Consulting, supported by functions building core capability to deliver the products.
I’ve been designing interventions for more than a decade and considered myself a specialist who desired to create something at the next level: an organisational capability to package and scale powerful transformational processes.
At the same time, I have never been a manager. I have barely led a team. Now I was asked to manage managers, most of whom would face a similar first-time challenge: to shape the work of others, a group of bright youngsters fresh into their first jobs after university, not always clear about how this work thing works for them yet.
I tend to be like that fool in the first card of the Tarot, gleefully walking over a cliff and into the crocodile’s gaping jaws. That’s where stories generally start, don’t they? The wise man appears only later. I said to myself: I have been asked to take on a responsibility and a challenge, and I accept. I also thought, I’m getting a chance here.
Three years feel endless and brief as a breath. We have filled up the matrix and built capability. We worked on figuring out who we are and where we are going. We learned about what it means to work together. We made progress, but too little, too slow to stay as we were. We changed our approach, and became leaner in many ways. And now, at a fork in the road, we take ownership.
As I’m learning about being a leader, being a manager, I remain astounded at how much I have come to know, and continue to ask myself these questions:
- What does it mean to be a leader, and what does it mean to be a manager, in this world?
- How do I become a leader, shaping the order of our world?
- How do I become a manager, and start achieving results through the efforts of others? What is my work now?
I want to invite you on a journey with me, to explore these questions in the contexts of our different organisations.
We have designed a programme to help managers to more confidently and competently step into their roles. Our first client loves the programme – both HR, who commissioned the programme for their people, and the managers who participate in the programme.
In this programme, you will learn how to manage your organisation, your people and yourself, and not just about management as a great idea full of brilliant theories, a thousand miles removed from your reality.
- How do you and your colleagues start moving in the same direction, when it seems that everyone is seeing things only from their own perspectives?
- How do you have those challenging conversations, with actual people?
- How do you get your team together and take them to performance?
- How do you stay healthy and effective, when the second seems to devour to the first?
- How do you stay focused and energised, when you have a hard time figuring out where this centre is that cannot hold?
We find answers to these questions along all sorts of interesting pathways: by exploring and reflecting on your own, by asking even more questions, by having conversations with each other, by practising with each other and alone, by making decisions together and alone, by holding ourselves and each other accountable …
The programme consists of preparation work, twelve four hour conversations, and practical assignments with progress assessments. The assignments are real work – they develop the quality of your management practice. The real test is not a mark on a paper: it is how your actual performance as a manager improves.
Find out more about our new manager programme here