As you develop professionally, and grow from an executor to a manager to a manager of managers and so on, the content of your work changes. The skills needed to be a great executor are different from a great organizational manager.
You'll find that many founders, as their companies evolve, struggle with this transition. Everyone likes to be "in the weeds," on the ground level. The maturation process is not easy.
At the crux of the differences between the different stages of professional development, is a common theme - the ability to multiply.
When you are on the ground floor, say an intern or one of the only people at the company, you are multiplying solutions. You are coming up with and building solutions. You are the execution machine cranking out problem statements and answers.
Level up one.
You now manage others. Your role is to make them better at what they do.
Imagine you have 10 people working under you. Rather than make yourself, say 10% better (which is really hard), try making those under you even just 1% better at what they do. The results can be compounding and that is special.
In this case, your day to day is not executing on problems. But rather filtering signal from noise - your goal is to make sure everyone is aligned and rowing in a similar direction.
Fast forward once again and now you manage other managers. Your job is now much more about people than it is about solving executional and operational challenges. The opportunity for you is to make a compounding multiplier - finding ways to make everyone around you just that much better - even a small difference in productivity/happiness among the teams under you can create a disruptive (in a good way) amount of change.
But at this stage, your worries are more about people than they are about tactics. You must become a master empathizer. You must learn what your employees want and why they want them.
- Why does my team show up for work?
- What do they want from their manager?
- What are their career goals?
- What gets them excited?
And then also tougher questions like:
- What are their biggest fears?
- What scares them?
I find the transition from executor to manager (and so on) quite fascinating. I think often times we blaze through the earlier stages, unprepared to think about things that a true organizational manager must be able to process and think about.
This post was inspired a great talk I had with Brandon Trew, a GPM at Uber.