One of the most significant transitions in our leadership is moving from an individual contributor to a manager. As an individual contributor, you have more control over your results. You produce the results, often coming up with the process to get the results and having complete control over the quality you deliver for your part in the process. 

Moving to a manager level, you are now shifting from delivering results to delivering results through people. The way you get results through people is a complex formula. It’s dependent on you, your team, your organization, and many more variables. 

Results through people

I was talking to a group of leaders who have been managing people anywhere from 5-20 years. I asked them how they get results through people. Some of the answers were:

  • Leading by example 
  • Telling them what to do 
  • Giving them solutions to their questions 
  • Checking in on their work
  • Being their technical expert
  • Keeping harmony in the team
  • Making sure those who show initiative get attention
  • Having high standards

You may think you’re doing great, but your people feel otherwise

These leaders saw some results from their team, but things could have been better. In some cases, things could have been much better. These leaders received feedback from those direct reports. Their direct reports shared that these managers didn’t…

  • Delegate
  • Give them a sense of ownership
  • Allow them to grow
  • Set clear expectations
  • Help team members work through issues and instead take over when there is a problem
  • Provide regular feedback
  • Help them grow their skills if they weren’t “one of the favorites”

Understanding blindspots and limitations

These managers didn’t get results through their people by empowering them. The team members felt disengaged and stagnant. The good news is that, as humans, we can change our behaviors. Once these leaders got feedback and understood their blindspots and limitations, they made plans to shift their behaviors. It’s a challenging process, and results can take time, but their impact will be more significant due to the changes they make.

Ask yourself, how do you get results through people? What is working for them? For you? What can be fixed? Where and how might you shift to get what you want and need?