So you are a manager's manager?

So you are now, a manager’s manager? You are no longer only responsible for developing yourself. You also are responsible for developing others who would then in turn develop your team. How you deliver value is going to be very different when you were a first line manager or even an IC. Trust me when I say those skills don’t come by working on the job. You would need to be very intentional about it.

I have had the fortune opportunity to work in all three capacities - an IC, First Line Manager and ofcourse- the topic of this post. It’s safe to say that I have a few patterns that I have seen work well and others not so much. This post have a couple of them as I reflect on my roles I have had. Hopefully - provide some insights for others on a similar path.

So you are a manager's manager?

So what does success really look like as a Manager’s Manager (or any further degree of that). I would break this down in three different buckets. Your impact on a)Business b)People and finally c) Personally


Your role requires you to show high performance. But now its not your own alone - but also your extended teams. You need to account for much bigger objectives - sometimes proportional to scale of the team you lead. But defining objectives is usually the start and not even the final state. As you refine the messaging with the aim to provide clarity - you get feedback. Active listening provide you perspectives, insights.

They will then inform and shape the path you take to achieve the objectives. Active listening and incorporating relevant value add feedback helps with alignment. Buy-in from everyone in your team provides the extra support to drive goals. The buy-in supports the ‘why’ and the clarity on the end goal helps with your team work through the details of the how.

Beyond the obvious role as an escalation path, your role is pivotal to managing your stakeholders. The more plugged in you are with your stakeholders the better your pulse will be on the business. Getting first hand feedback would also help you coach your teams better on areas of (re) focus


A good indicator of how you are doing as a manager depends on the kind of problems your team is bringing to you. Reflect on that for a moment. It will help provide an interesting insight into how your team thinks about running the business. Are they thinking tactically all the time or they have strategic point of views. How you approach those discussions are also just as critical. Here’s an interesting thing I have learnt over the years.

Like in sports - coaches don’t solve for tactics, nutrition, health, exercise. Instead they leverage other experts to help. Your role is instead in ensuring the best support comes from people who are experts in that area instead. This freed me from trying too hard to help. It also helped the team learn how to help themselves - and develop into next set of leaders.

When managing teams - large and small - tangible success depends on clarity of desired outcomes as opposed to ‘completion of a project’ - The former leads to long lasting impact, while the latter only leads to a tactical completion of a group of tasks.

Working through the issues with your directs is a wonderful opportunity to get to know them. You can apply situational leadership and be proactive about providing direction and feedback. Helping them understand what choices they have. How they think about approaching them and what their strategies are. All are key questions to work through together.

As long as the ‘what’ is clear for the immediate managers, they can then figure out the ‘what’ for their specific area. They can then also get the bigger picture of how it will all come together.


Personally, the biggest learning for me has been to remove the urge to drop everything and jump in to help. Instead the focus has been on coaching. I like to call it the ratio between the statements to questions in any given conversation. The switch to being an enabler and a coach from being a doer is an intentional journey. I still sometimes drop a story from my personal playbook. Stories of what has worked or not worked but I try my best to make it contextually relevant.

Congrats on your journey as a manager’s manager. Alt. congrats on you being intentional about how to be the very best you could be. It becomes a people first business in the end. Approach your conversations with curiosity rather than judgement. Uncover opportunities together in partnership with your stakeholders and share it with your team. Set your vision, but ensure there is a shared understanding. Most importantly spend time to get to know your team’s favourite person - them.

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