March 29, 2024

Six Mindset Shifts You Need To Make To Become A Good Manager


Congratulations! You’ve been promoted to your first management position, and many people have high expectations of you and are analyzing your every move. I’ll be the first to admit this process can be overwhelming. Why? You are now responsible for a group of people and have to get results through others.

Ironically, most new managers don’t understand their new jobs. The transition from being an individual contributor to becoming a manager is not just about a change in title. The skills that made you successful in your former role are likely not enough—and possibly not even related—to the knowledge and skills you’ll need to help you thrive in your new position. What’s most relevant is fundamental mindset shifts.

Even for the most talented person, becoming a manager is a journey of learning and development, which can be difficult at times. As William Gentry put it, this requires a new level of self-awareness and a new perspective that redefines success.

In his book Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, he suggests six mindset shifts, or flips, to become a great boss. By making these mindset shifts, you’ll evolve from being merely a manager to a truly great boss, empowering you to lead your team with confidence and effectiveness.

Six Mindset Shifts to Make to Thrive in Your New Role

1. Shift your mindset to think like a boss. 

Think strategically and long-term. This means thinking ahead about the challenges and needs your team will face in the near and long-term future, not just about meeting today’s demands. Working towards your organization’s goals rather than just your own and getting results that move the needle are both part of the big picture. 

Even though the emphasis is no longer on your individual performance, you need to understand your natural preferences and tendencies and be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses to effectively lead others. Thinking like a boss involves anticipating future needs, planning proactively, and cultivating a vision that inspires and motivates your team to excel.

2. Shift your skill set

You now have to develop capabilities beyond the technical abilities you needed in previous jobs. As Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here won’t get you there.” Your superior technical abilities in your individual contributor position must now take a back seat to soft skills and relationship building.

Here’s a list of skills you need to develop to effectively lead a team:

  • Get to know your team, understand their work style preferences, and communicate with them accordingly.
  • Building a cohesive team and a culture of trust.
  • Develop the ability to influence others and get their support for decisions.
  • Make time and space to develop (coach) your team’s skills by delegating challenging tasks and providing feedback.

When you, as the manager, take the time to get to know your team and understand their learning styles and motivations, you can adjust your management style to bring out the best in everyone.

3. Shift your relationships 

You’re now managing staff, teams, and even peers and friends at work. This can be difficult, especially if you’re managing friends, but you can do it by setting clear boundaries. 

  • Set clear expectations for friends and former coworkers.
  • Avoid favoritism and treat all team members fairly.
  • Focus on building high-quality relationships with each team member.
  • Build a cohesive team by clarifying their roles and keeping everyone accountable, including you.

Navigating relationships with peers in other departments is also key to becoming an effective manager and achieving your business goals. You need to expand your influence upward and horizontally.

4. Shift your attitude 

As the new manager, you can’t do it all by yourself. Bosses must delegate. If you try to do everything, you’ll likely fail. Shift your mindset to prioritize tasks that involve developing your team, such as coaching and mentoring, while trusting your team to handle other responsibilities. Set effective goals, monitor their progress, and provide feedback. Remember, delegation is empowering your team members to take ownership and grow professionally.

5. Shift your perspective 

You’re now in a position to expand your view of the organization and your role in it. This goes hand in hand with thinking like a boss. Imagine hovering above your organization at 20,000 feet and seeing it as a chessboard. What’s going on inside the team, as well as outside the team? What are the forces that impact how you and your team function? 

You need to understand internal dynamics and external influences and navigate company politics. Once you do that, you’ll be more productive, identify opportunities for collaboration, and reap the benefits.

6. Shift your focus 

It’s time to recognize that your actions have repercussions beyond yourself. You are now responsible for a team of people, and your actions affect them and the broader organization. Everything you do builds or harms your team’s culture. It’s on you to create a culture of mutual reliance, openness, and a shared sense of creating and molding that culture together.

Lead by example, demonstrate accountability, don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses, and uphold ethical standards in all your interactions and decisions. This creates an environment where trust—an essential element for results, job satisfaction, and retention—can thrive.

Becoming a great manager isn’t just about mastering technical skills; it’s about empowering others, fostering a positive work environment, and driving collective growth. By embracing these mindset shifts, you’ll excel as a manager and inspire those around you to reach their full potential. 

Leadership is a journey of continuous growth, and cultivating the right mindset shifts can pave the way for both personal and professional success.