• Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

Updated: 18 hours ago


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⭐ Toby's Rating: 8/10 - Recommended For: Managers


3 Big Ideas


A summary of the big ideas from The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo:

  • A Managers job is to build a team that works well together, support members in reaching their career goals, and create processes to get work done smoothly and efficiently.

  • A manager is a specific role. Leadership is the particular skill of being able to guide and influence other people. While the role of a manager can be given to someone (or taken away), leadership is not something that can be bestowed. It must be earned. People must want to follow you.

  • Being a great manager is a highly personal journey, and if you don’t have a good handle on yourself, you won’t have a good handle on how to best support your team.


2 Most Tweetable Quotes


Best quotes from The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo:


People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

When managing managers, success becomes more and more about mastering a few key skills: hiring exceptional leaders, building self-reliant teams, establishing a clear vision, and communicating well.

1 Top Takeaway


Here is my top takeaway from The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

💡 Your success managing others is dependent on how well you can manage yourself.


Julie Zhuo shares important insights about how manages need to invest deeply on their personal skills. Self-awareness of your strengths, your values, your comfort zones, your blind spots, and your biases.


To do this Julie Zhuo shares her personal experience with executive coaching. This enabled her to be more aware of her "triggers" and find ways to manage those better.


This book is for:

  • New managers who are thrown into the deep end

  • Overwhelmed managers wondering how to best help their reports.

  • Managers dealing with fast-growing teams

  • People simply curious about management.

Here is what others are saying

Big Ideas Expanded


Book Summary: The Making of a Manager - The Big Ideas Expanded

What is Management? 🤔

Manageement is a deeply human endeavour to empower others.


Most managers are not CEOs or senior executives. Most lead smaller teams, and sometimes not even directly. All managers share a common purpose: helping a group of people achieve a common goal.

Running a team is hard because it ultimately boils down to people, and all of us are multifaceted and complex beings.

The manager's job is to build a team that works well together, support members in reaching their career goals, and create processes to get work done smoothly and efficiently.

This is the crux of management:

It is the belief that a team of people can achieve more than a single person going it alone. It is the realization that you don’t have to do everything yourself, be the best at everything yourself, or even know how to do everything yourself. Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together. It’s from this simple definition that everything else flows.

You can be the smartest, most well-liked, most hardworking manager in the world, but if your team has a long-standing reputation for mediocre outcomes, then unfortunately you can’t objectively be considered a “great” manager. Never forget what you’re ultimately here to do: help your team achieve great outcomes.


Three jobs of a manager:


  1. Ensure that your team knows what success looks like and cares about achieving it.

  2. Understand people. Are the members of your team set up to succeed? Do they have the right skills? Are they motivated to do great work?

  3. Develop great team processes. How your team works together.


Success Indicators for Managers:

  • My reports regularly bring their biggest challenges to my attention.

  • My report and I regularly give each other critical feedback and it isn’t taken personally.

  • My reports would gladly work for me again.


Great managers are made, not born.


The Difference Between Leadership and Management 🔥


Manager is a specific role. Leadership is the particular skill of being able to guide and influence other people. Leadership is a quality rather than a job.


This is an important distinction because while the role of a manager can be given to someone (or taken away), leadership is not something that can be bestowed. It must be earned. People must want to follow you.


A manager who doesn’t know how to influence others isn’t going to be particularly effective at improving the outcomes of her team. So to be a great manager, one must certainly be a leader. A leader, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be a manager.


Great managers should cultivate leadership not just in themselves but also within their teams.


Your job as a manager isn’t to dole out advice or “save the day”—it’s to empower your report to find the answer herself.


How To Do Great One-On-Ones 👥


What gets in the way of good work? There are only two possibilities.1 The first is that people don’t know how to do good work. The second is that they know how, but they aren’t motivated.

- Andy Grove

Julie Zhuo's One-On-One Tips:

  • I recommend no less than a weekly 1:1 with every report for thirty minutes, and more time if needed.

  • One-on-ones should be focused on your report and what would help him be more successful, not on you and what you need.

  • If you’re looking for a status update, use another channel.

  • Rare one-on-one face time is better spent on topics that are harder to discuss in a group or over email.

  • The ideal 1:1 leaves your report feeling that it was useful for her. If she thinks that the conversation was pleasant but largely unmemorable, then you can do better.

  • I tell my reports that I want our time together to be valuable, so we should focus on what’s most important for them.

  • Discuss top priorities: What are the one, two, or three most critical outcomes for your report and how can you help her tackle these challenges?

Calibrate what “great” looks like:

Do you have a shared vision of what you’re working toward? Are you in sync about goals or expectations?


Share feedback:

What feedback can you give that will help your report, and what can your report tell you that will make you more effective as a manager?


Reflect on how things are going:

Once in a while, it’s useful to zoom out and talk about your report’s general state of mind—how is he feeling on the whole? What’s making him satisfied or dissatisfied? Have any of his goals changed? What has he learned recently and what does he want to learn going forward?

Questions for one-on-ones:


Here are some of Julie Zhuo's favourite questions to get the conversation moving:


Identify:

  • What’s top of mind for you right now?

  • What priorities are you thinking about this week?

  • What’s the best use of our time today?

Understand:

  • What does your ideal outcome look like?

  • What’s hard for you in getting to that outcome?

  • What do you really care about?

  • What do you think is the best course of action? What’s the worst-case scenario you’re worried about?

Support:

  • How can I help you?

  • What can I do to make you more successful?

  • What was the most useful part of our conversation today?

Managing Yourself 🪞


Being a great manager is a highly personal journey, and if you don’t have a good handle on yourself, you won’t have a good handle on how to best support your team.

No matter what obstacles you face, you first need to get deep with knowing you—your strengths, your values, your comfort zones, your blind spots, and your biases.

Imposter syndrome is what makes you feel as though you’re the only one with nothing worthwhile to say when you walk into a room full of people you admire.

“Ask any new manager about the early days of being a boss—indeed, ask any senior executive to recall how he or she felt as a new manager. If you get an honest answer, you’ll hear a tale of disorientation and, for some, overwhelming confusion. The new role didn’t feel anything like it was supposed to. It felt too big for any one person to handle.”

Linda Hill, a professor at Harvard Business School


When the sailing gets rocky, the manager is often the first person others turn to, so it’s common to feel intense pressure to know what to do or say. When you don’t, you naturally think: Am I cut out for this job?

Julie Zhuo share's she is at her best when:

  • I’ve received at least eight hours of sleep.

  • I’ve done something productive early in the day, which motivates me to keep the momentum going.

  • I know what my desired outcome looks like before I start.

  • I have trust and camaraderie with the people I work with.

  • I’m able to process information alone (and through writing) before big discussions or decisions.

  • I feel like I’m learning and growing.

The flip side of the coin is understanding which situations do the opposite—that is, they trigger an intensely negative reaction that derails your effectiveness. What are the things that push your buttons, but maybe not someone else’s?

Triggers occupy the space between your growth area and somebody else’s—you could work on controlling your reactions, but the other person could also benefit from hearing your feedback.


To figure out what your triggers are, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time someone said something that annoyed me more than it did others around me?

  • Why did I feel so strongly about it?

  • What would my closest friends say my pet peeves are?

  • Who have I met that I’ve immediately been wary of?

  • What made me feel that way?

  • What’s an example of a time when I’ve overreacted and later regretted it?

  • What made me so worked up in that moment?

Three things you can do to build self-awareness:


Ask for Feedback

Remember to ask for both task-specific and behavioral feedback. The more concrete you are about what you want to know, the better. If you lead with, “Hey, how do you think my presentation went?” you’ll probably hear responses like “I think it went well,” which aren’t particularly helpful. Instead, probe at the specifics and make it easy for someone to tell you something actionable. “I’m working on making sure my point is clear in the first three minutes. Did that come across? How can I make it clearer next time?”

Treat Your Manager as a Coach


When I started to see 1:1s with my manager as an opportunity for focused learning, I got so much more out of it.

Make a Mentor Out of Everyone


Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Lean In, cautions against treating the notion of a mentor as something too precious. Nobody wants to be asked, “Will you be my mentor?” because it sounds needy and time-consuming. But ask for specific advice instead, and you’ll find tons of people willing to help.

What other people are saying:


©2020 by Toby Sinclair.

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