Why Most Managers Fail: The Unspoken Importance of Management Training
Ever wonder why your exceptional ICs became terrible managers? Because being a superstar in your role doesn’t guarantee success in managing a team. It’s a completely different set of skills you need to develop just like how you hone your IC skills.
Navigating the shift from individual contributor to manager is like jumping from one world to another. Many managers fail because they’re promoted based on their stellar performance as ICs. We’ve all seen it—top-notch salespeople turned into sales managers who struggle, engineering superstars turned into engineering managers who flounder. It’s a common tale that echoes across industries.
I’ve been there too. At PlayHaven and the early days of Leapfin, we fell into the same trap. When someone like John excels in their role, it’s tempting to promote them to train the next “Johns.” But here’s the catch: the skills required to be an exceptional manager are vastly different from those of a high-performing IC.
Becoming a great manager requires dedicated investment in developing a whole new skillset—just like mastering sales or engineering. As an AE, you hone skills like conducting discovery calls, handling objections, negotiating commercials, and closing deals. These skills make you an IC superstar in sales.
However, shifting to management means starting from square one. Suddenly, you’re faced with questions like: How do I recruit effectively? How do I make sure my team hit their numbers? How do I motivate my team when we have a shitty quarter? How do I set and measure goals that align with their career aspirations? These questions lead to a discovery: management is a unique realm that demands a fresh toolkit.
In our career leveling framework at Leapfin, we’ve separated the IC and management tracks, recognizing that both journeys necessitate entirely different skill sets. Transitioning from a rockstar IC to an effective manager isn’t seamless. It’s an entirely new craft that requires deliberate cultivation.
That’s why we’ve introduced a management training course at Leapfin. We believe in nurturing the potential of those who aspire to lead teams and organizations. We aim to equip these talented individuals with the tools to:
✅ Run impactful 1:1s
✅ Lead high-performing teams
✅ Provide constructive feedback (positive and negative)
✅ Process and organizational designs
✅ Goal settings and measurements
For those curious about the foundations of management, I wholeheartedly recommend “High Output Management” by Andy Grove. This book is a masterpiece on modern management. It was Andy Grove’s insights into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that really connected the dots for me on understanding the mystery of management.
Why? Because at the end of the day, we are all human with needs. Management is about understanding the needs and desires of your people. Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy—the hunter-gatherer survival instincts still echo in our modern workplaces. As a manager, your job is to decode where your people stand in their hierarchy and fulfill their unique needs.
In tech, generally, everyone is paid well enough that their safety and physiological needs are well satisfied. But when someone seeks a promotion, why? Are they striving for esteem or self-actualization? It’s your role as a manager to unravel these layers, align their goals with their hierarchy, and cultivate a workplace that nurtures their growth.
At the crossroads of ambition and skill, management training stands as a beacon of guidance. It’s a journey of unlearning and relearning, a path that propels you to empower others to shine.