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Thrown in the deep end of management

What happens when you find yourself managing people… by accident?

Not all managers start out with aspirations to become a leader. For many, it’s a role they find themselves in by accident; one for which they’ve never been adequately prepared. It can happen if you stay at a company for a long time, and rise up through the ranks ‘by default’ as your superiors move on. It can happen if you start a solo enterprise that suddenly morphs into a bigger business. It can even happen when you’re assigned new duties during a company re-structure – and no one bothers to ask if you’re able or willing to perform them.

All the scenarios above can place a person in the uncomfortable position of being an ‘accidental manager’. While some rise to the challenge and quickly find their feet, others are quite conscious that there are things they ‘could’ or ‘should’ be doing to manage people better – yet they have no idea what those things are. In Australia, management has previously been a somewhat invisible skill; something people assume we can all do naturally (much like raising a baby that’s been suddenly thrust into your arms).

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Good managers aren’t born, they’re made. It’s not enough to rely on the learning by ‘just doing it’ – leadership calls for skills that must be taught. Things like developing skills in others, performance management and conflict resolution. Skills to cope with situations that, outside management, you’re unlikely to encounter.

It’s easy to see why accidental managers are costing their employers money and lost productivity. Managers have the greatest single impact on staff retention and engagement. Gallup recently identified that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement. It’s no wonder that 91% of Australian CEO’s believe leadership skills are the number one priority for learning and development.

The issues with Australia’s laid-back attitude to management is that legions of accidental managers are going about their business, with a creeping uncertainty that they’re actually ‘doing it right’. It was this key insight that inspired (IML) to re-brand last year with such a pointed focus on intentional leadership – and it’s this issue that we’re working hard to address.

So how do you avoid becoming an accidental manager?

For those who are on the brink of management (or hope to be soon), it’s worth taking a look at our Foundations of Intentional Leadership Program. This is a practical program where emerging leaders come together and learn the core fundamentals to get them off on the right foot. Over 12 weeks, including six face-to-face sessions, the program offers greater self-awareness through diagnostic tools, one-on-one coaching and mentoring, as well as access to IML’s impressive online Learning Management System – plus, the cost includes the annual IML Membership fee, making it easier to stay in the leadership loop once the program finishes.

“We know that people are being thrust into management roles, often because they’re great individual contributors – but this is not the same as managing a team,” says Sam Bell FIML General Manager, Corporate Services & Research chat IML. “These people really need support, especially if they’re suddenly having to manage people who were previously peers or friends. Through the program, we look at all sorts of challenges that can crop up, such as having difficult conversations, and provide practical ways to approach them. It’s a great way for emerging leaders to get the type of support they won’t automatically receive at work.”

And what if you already are an accidental manager?

“It’s never too late to get some formal training,” says Sam Bell.” Even if you’re a seasoned manager who’s confident in your skills, it can help to have some external support and recognition. We introduced the Chartered Manager  professional accreditation in Australia for this very reason – it’s an internationally recognised designation that gives experienced managers the chance to demonstrate competence and professionalise their skills.”

Wherever you are in the leadership journey, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Managing a team can be tough – but it doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. By connecting with networks like IML, you can get the learning through innovative leadership programs and meet people who get what you’re going through. And by getting your leadership foundations right from the start, you can enjoy a career that’s full of intent and purpose – and success that’s far from accidental.

To find out more about the Foundations of Intentional Leadership join us on July 17th for a free webinar. Register today!

There are limited places available in IML’s Foundations of Intentional Leadership Development Program. Register today:


Offer Ends 30 June 2024

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