Business authors Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback present a detailed, functional blueprint to help new and middle managers excel.
Harvard professor of business administration Linda A. Hill and prolific business writer Kent Lineback offer a lucid blend of cogent theory and practical strategies. They understand that even great managers face unprecedented challenges in an economic climate of constant innovation and general unpredictability.
Management is defined by responsibility, but it’s done by exerting influence.Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
Their deftly organized, clearly presented, practical guide serves middle managers – especially new ones – and anyone aspiring to be a great boss.
Linebeck and Hill warn that you will be accountable for other people’s work and that your challenges will include managing the immediate present and the distant future and coping with the dynamics of generational differences and cultural diversity.
You must understand how to use your authority; how to set boundaries while building caring, professional relationships; and how to generate and sustain the trust that underpins good management.
Abandon the idea that your success depends on exerting formal authority. Your staff members want an authentic relationship with you even though you are their boss. Hierarchical structures that place managers above their workers are less effective than structures that place managers amid their staff.
However, the authors caution you against the neophyte manager’s mistake of trying to be friends with your direct reports to gain their trust, respect and cooperation. Bosses and subordinates are not equals, and friends don’t make each other change their work practices or report on one another’s progress.
Through purpose, goals and clarity, groups become teams – communities that exert strong influence on members’ attitudes and behaviors.Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
Formal authority and likability, Linebeck and Hill maintain, will not grant you managerial influence. Only trust can do that. Your trustworthiness and character derive from your values and how you practice them daily. Your staff will parse your every word and action to determine whether you consistently do the right thing.
Manage Your Network
Two realities of organizational life surprise many new and middle managers: how interdependent you will be with other people and how pervasive conflict is among competing stakeholders. To resolve both issues,Linebeck and Hill advise, develop and cultivate a set of networks. To manage your networks, determine who belongs to which networks and nurture those connections. Create an “operational network” pertaining to your team’s actual work, a “strategic network” to polish future planning and a “developmental network” to guide your personal growth as a manager.
Hill and Lineback counsel leveraging your networks four ways: Get and share information, integrate your group within the larger organization, create mutually beneficial coalitions with people who share common objectives, and gain their help in discerning and assessing the trade-offs – including ethical questions – that occur among stakeholders.
Management begins with you – who you are as a person. Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
All organizations are political environments, so create, nurture and protect your sphere of influence. Some managers mistakenly feel responsible only for their group’s productivity, so they interact with other managers and units only when necessary. But that’s a mistake. The authors warn that eschewing corporate politics guarantees managerial failure. You are the voice of your team, so you must consistently smooth out relationships with other groups, negotiate on behalf of your team, protect its best interests, and disseminate information about its needs and accomplishments.
Learn to manage up. Examine your relationship with your direct superior and benefit from his or her experience, insights and wisdom. Hill and Lineback say that you can enhance your relationship with your boss by looking for areas that need improvement, including achieving higher levels of trust, fulfilling needs, meeting expectations, communicating your drive for career growth, maximizing your strengths and bolstering your limitations.
Manage Your Team
Members of a cohesive team believe the group will succeed or fail as a whole, not person by person. The members of such teams do not seek individual credit or glory. Instead, personal bonds unite them in pursuit of a mutual purpose. Effective managers create a team and manage through it, rather than managing members one-on-one; however, you must remember that while people long to be part of a group, they also crave appreciation as individuals.
Openly recognize individual contributions and efforts to be team players. When you engage with your staffers, give them your full, undivided attention. Get to know them as individuals. Build your ability to hire the right candidates, evaluate employee performance, take corrective actions as needed and terminate unsuitable workers with dignity.
Team culture, like infrastructure, enables productive work. If you get the culture wrong, nothing else your team does is likely to work well. Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
Working with your team, define a vision of the future based on a shared mission to establish common goals, foster commitment, improve focus, deepen a sense of perspective about change, and build trust and influence.
Culture is the intangible infrastructure that supports productive work. If you establish clearly defined expectations within the right culture, the authors believe, you can create an atmosphere of trust in which everyone believes that each team member is doing and will do the right thing. The same guidelines apply when you supervise virtual and cross-cultural teams.
The authors suggest embracing novel solutions to inevitable unplanned situations, challenges and responsibilities. For example, one novel solution is to assign two team members who are tense with each other to solve an urgent problem together.
Hill and Lineback understand how to merge the academic and the practical with unusual straightforwardness and subtlety. Unlike many parallel works, their book is not a promotion for a custom managerial system, consultancy services or public speaking gigs.
Full mastery comes slowly, as with any serious craft, and requires steady progress in a world that keeps throwing up ever more complex challenges and opportunities. Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
The authors catalog and provide solutions for issues that arise in the day-to-day running of an organization. Their advice might save new managers inadvertent and difficult-to-undo rookie mistakes and might help experienced managers realize they’ve committed unconscious errors. Hill and Lineback are not the world’s smoothest prose stylists, but their valuable advice transcends any bumps in their presentation.
Linda A. Hill also wrote Codependency Recovery Workbook, Gaslighting and Becoming a Manager. She and Kent Lineback previously co-authored Collective Genius with Greg Brandeau and Emily Truelove. Lineback also co-wrote The Legacy Guide with Carol Franco.