The Four Stages of a Complete Manager

 -  5/16/12

Managers pick up essential skills at each stage of a career. These characteristics build a well-rounded individual capable of handling any situation and ensuring talent development down the line.

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Virtual Managers Need Four Skills

There are four essential skills managers who work outside of an office must possess to overcome talent management challenges and lead their employees.

The Complete Manager Is ...

1. Credible.
2. An active follower.
3. An effective networker.
4. Skilled at giving and receiving feedback.
5. Attuned to corporate culture.
6. A proactive career planner.
7. Politically savvy.
8. Skilled at balance — risk/reward, priorities, life.
9. Focused on developing talent with an organizational perspective.
10. A continuous and integrative learner.


The picture of a “complete” manager calls to mind an individual who is skilled in all of the technical aspects of his or her role and seasoned by the joys and challenges of managing people.

Talent managers can identify and consistently develop complete managers, but it requires more than training on key skills. While managers have many tools, skills and methods available to them, “the difference between a trained manager and a complete manager is that the complete manager knows how and when to use the tools on which he or she has been trained,” according to Chuck Papageorgiou, founder of Ideasphere Partners, a corporate renewal consulting practice.

Since training is not sufficient, experiential learning may be one answer. Talent managers also can provide access to mentors — both peers and those more senior — who are willing to share their insights on what has worked and what has not. Mentors’ stories allow individuals to borrow expertise and develop soft skills that complete them as managers.

First, a complete manager performs effectively — this is the cost of entry. The associated competencies, actions and attitudes are developed over time at different stages of a career. There are generally four stages of management responsibility: the individual contributor, the new manager, the experienced manager who manages managers or is managing across functions, and the executive manager who is leading a complete entity. Let’s examine strategies to build proficiency at each stage.

Stage 1 — The Individual Contributor
Some of the foundational elements of good management are developed in high-performing individual contributors before they enter the management ranks. At this stage, it is key to establish credibility, learn to be an active follower and learn how to build a professional network.



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