On the way to becoming a manager: my interview with the TUM Career Guide
Every path begins with a first step. The path to becoming a manager is no exception. I have encountered this path and have given an interview about my experiences to the TUM Career Guide. A few practical tips are, of course, included.
First day / First step
To jump right into the topic – On my first day as a manager, I was excited with anticipation. If employees are uncertain when a new manager arrives – the exact feeling is reciprocated both ways. Of course, I wanted to be respected by my team. But being liked was just as important to me. I didn’t agree with Macchiavelli, because being feared by my employees was not my goal.
Leadership can be learned. However, in my experience, it is important to have some talent and the right attitude. Organizational skills are quite central, because you have to be able to keep track, of which team member (based on their strengths) suits appropriate tasks and goals.
The willingness to let go and delegate is also important. After all, as a leader, you must have the confidence that someone else has the ability to expertly handle important tasks. This brings me to my most important point – As a leader, you should definitely enjoy engaging with people. After all, you can’t avoid collaboration and communication in a leadership role.
The Biggest Leadership Mistake: Lack of trust
In my view, the biggest mistake you can make as a leader is a lack of trust. However, trust in the team is absolutely necessary! A leader must present an attitude of believing in his team.
As a leader, I identified that my main task is providing optimal working conditions for my team. Neither the carrot nor the stick is helpful for long term results.
As I grew professionally, it quickly became clear to me that I wanted to help others grow just as much as my mentor had helped me grow. That was the motivation for me to become a mentor at the Technical University of Munich twice to date, and to establish an alumni network in Stuttgart, my former city of residence and work.
How can you prepare for a leadership position? Is it even possible? After all, every team and every company is unique. However, preparation for your first leadership role is still encouraged. Looking ahead to future tasks and challenges, a solid foundation is recommended. There are many options available to assist with a stable foundation i.e. special seminars, reading material, audio books, and podcasts. This list is not exhaustive.
My secret tip is to start noticing opportunities in everyday personal life to develop leadership skills. You can commence this process and grow your leadership skillset while you’re still in college, and you can apply them in various ways. You can accept a honorary position, project work, train a football team, be a part of student representative council etc. Organizing, motivating, and delegating will provide you with your initial leadership experiences.
It is important to remember that you are already practicing this skillset unconsciously. In your journey on being recognized as an efficient manager, it is important to deliberately develop these skills.
More information about the TUM Career Guide and a first look at the book can be found here: