Creating A Beginners Mind: The Knowing Manager

beginners mind, manager, leaderNew managers often obtain their position based on their level of expertise. The ability to act on what you know with great success is usually what moved you into a management position.

However, not all of your know-how, smarts or systems will solve all your new and different problems. The issues you face as a manager are different. You are now responsible for employee development, conflict management, strategic planning and budgets.

Knowledge and learning

As your expertise moved you into management, what you know has also allowed you to achieve throughout life. From the time you entered the school system until you graduated from college, success is determined by what you learned.

How did you learn in the past? How did you become the knower and expert you are today? In school, you were forced to learn or a teacher would fail you. You are still responsible for learning but there isn’t a teacher to tell you what to do. So now what? As odd as it may sound, you must begin to let go of being the knower and having answers to all the problems, because you don’t.

A beginners mind

The key to learning at this stage is creating and cultivating a beginners mind by allowing yourself to not know the answer and open your mind to asking questions, listening and learning.

“But wait, knowing the answers is what got me here…”

That is true, you must retain some answers and knowledge but there is now a broad management space where you don’t have the answers. To fake knowing the answers or to only use your existing abilities will cause you difficulty and stress and you won’t be managing for long.

Eight steps to cultivating a beginners mind

These eight steps to cultivating a beginners mind will give you the basic tools you need to begin learning again:

  1. Acknowledge that you do not have the answers
  2. Don’t hold so tight to your beliefs and mental models
  3. Seek out people, books and classes
  4. Be curious and ask a lot questions (none are stupid)
  5. Be present, listen intently for information and ask some more questions
  6. Begin to process, test and practice
  7. Allow yourself to fail as you are a beginner
  8. Practice to gain competence

Just as when you were in school, you learned multiplication, practiced math problems, got some wrong and then practiced some more until you got them right. For a manager this may be trying out different methods of conflict resolution until you find one that works.

It is about being open, accepting ignorance, listening, learning and practicing until you become competent and start gaining success. Being a manager is about using your existing skill set and allowing yourself to be a beginner and learn the new skills necessary to succeed.

Derek Lauber

image courtesy: ginnerobot


Related Articles:

Curiosity: Lifelong Learning by Derek Lauber
Book Review: Mastery – The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillmentby Derek Lauber


Great managers are the glue to productivity in organizations. In a 2011 CareerBuilder survey fifty-eight percent of managers surveyed said they didn’t receive any management training.


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