If you are on the path to becoming a New Supervisor you may be interested in the following nine popular myths that might help clarify management and leadership in your mind.

Myth #1 Managing is easy

Many emerging leaders view managing as easy. While the people side of management may look easy, it’s not. After all, we are dealing with emotional human beings here, all with varying values, communication and behavioural styles. Add in to it mixed expectations, conflicting objectives, and conflicting needs from multiple stakeholders, the role of a manager is very complex.  Not a role to aspire to if you are looking to “take it easy” on the job.

Myth #2 When I become a manager, nothing will really change 

The role of a manager will probably be different to what you have envisioned.  The transition changes your relationships with new direct reports who were previously workmates, other supervisors, and even the other business units or functions within your company.  Becoming a manager forces you to learn new things, behave in different ways, and ultimately be accountable for both the process of work and achieved results through your direct reports.

Myth #3 Once I get it, I’ve got it

The biggest fallacy about management ever perpetuated because unless you continue to develop your knowledge and skills as a manager you will not continue to succeed. Ongoing development is the key.

“The most important skill you will need in your career is the ability to acquire new skills,” Rupert Murdock once said during a lecture series in 2008.

We live and work in a knowledge economy today so if you are not learning and not improving your knowledge and skills, then you might as well roll over and let your career die.

Myth #4 Management & Leadership are about common sense

Frank Lloyd Write the famous architect once said, “Nothing is more uncommon than common sense.” Good management is an exercise in rational thinking, and can go a long way in helping new manager succeed.  However, many of the concepts, skills and behaviours underlying management are not always intuitively obvious. 

Myth #5 Management means just maintaining 

Being a manager requires that you innovate and take the initiative, even in areas that once only demanded enforcement and compliance.  This means that one of the fundamental roles as a manager is to continuously improve processes, create positive change, and make things better for your people.

Myth #6 People always try their best. 

This is one of the most enduring myths of management and one that gets a lot of managers into trouble.  Research and experience over many years and thousands of organisations tells us that more than half your employees will exert effort of around 60% or less of their capability.  There are many reasons for this; however, the two major ones are a lack of clear expectations by the manager, and poor feedback.  Without clarity and feedback, people will gradually perform less and less until their performance is only enough to “get by.”  Your management style, conflict approach, and the performance management systems you use will dramatically impact your employees to exert more, or exert less effort.

Myth #7 One style fits all

There is no one-best-way to manage your people in all situations. You need to adapt your style to suit not only the situation but also the person involved. To be a successful manager, you must have some understanding of your own communication and behavioural style before you will be able to understand the style of the people that work for you.  When you have mastered the art and science of flexing your style, your management skills will take you and your team to the next level of success.

Myth #8 Managers are always right

Old fashioned management theory and folklore was full of examples of the “perfect” manager who was always right and who often knew the answer to the question that have not yet been asked.  If it ever even existed, those days are over.  Sometimes managers find themselves supervising people who may have greater technical knowledge or higher qualifications than themselves, and that is ok. 

Myth #9 Empowerment is the key to management

‘Empowerment’, was incredibly popular in many organisations since the late 1980’s.However, it has rarely shown any long term sustainable impact.  The problem is when you ‘empower’ new staff to do a job they don’t know how to do, you end up doing it yourself after they have done it wrong. ‘Empowerment’ can work with some of your team, but again, it falls into the ‘one size does not fit all’ theory.  You have to adapt your style for individual style preferences.

Further Reading

Boyer Lectures; Lecture 2: Who’s afraid of new technology

Six basic leadership styles that get results: Part 2 – adapting your style

How to Empower Your Employees

Writer: Lexie Martin

As an Australian Managing Director of Leadership Directions and Odyssey Training since 1996, Lexie Martin has been instrumental in leading the business to success. The organisation now offers professional development training across Australia and operates a specialised management and leadership training company with a focus on developing and embedding leadership skills into the workplace.