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Brilliant Managers: 10 Steps to Creating Great Teams


Managers own the job of creating great teams; these are the words of former Netflix CHRO, Patti McCord, a company that delivered $7.3billion USD in the second quarter of 2021 and is now considered one of the most successful and influential video streaming services in the world. At Sheridan Worldwide we are focused on supporting our clients to – onboard, develop and retain the world’s best talent, recognising that a team climate has a +/- effect on both engagement and performance. Creating great teams in the 21st century, requires renewed focus on human skill development; this blog offers a brief guide to what brilliant managers think and do differently, in order to create great teams. We’ll be publishing an eBook in mid-November – which offers a deeper dive into each of these 10-elements:

  1. Understanding the new context…
  2. Why manage? A re-orientation away from task to Talent-first.
  3. The power of Purpose – why meaning and challenge are critical to human performance
  4. Re-discovering human motivation
    The neuro-biology of trust
  5. Self-awareness, emotional triggers and decision-making
  6. What is psychological safety?
  7. Measuring psychological safety
  8. Being vulnerable is not what you think…
  9. The coaching advantage

Nothing prepares you for becoming a manager of people; it happened to me aged just 23. My first job was selling advertising space for a then, little known magazine called Human Resources. I happened to be very good at selling, I was driven, articulate and incredibly tenacious. As it turns out, these are qualities that lend themselves to sales. I also had a secret weapon, I’m an introvert, which means listening is second nature. And so, with some excellent on the job training, I soon rose to the top of the leader board. After a couple of years, I was itching for a new challenge. 

As is so often the case with people who excel in a particular job function, the only option was a vertical move, a promotion to advertising manager. Interestingly, I was never asked why I wanted to manage; I was never assessed in terms of my suitability or capability to manage people. There was no training and I was expected to keep making a personal revenue contribution, at the same levels as before. I was incredibly fortunate, both my deputy and my boss, were people-people. Adept at building trusted relationships and what I learnt from them, over the intervening years, was the power of humanity, together we created a winning culture. I am, to this day, incredibly grateful for that experience and their support.

So, what has my own experience taught me about developing brilliant managers? Three things come to mind, firstly; understanding the motivation to move into a manager role is crucial to being successful in the role. When you manage people, it’s not about “me” anymore; it’s about “we”. It took me some years to really understand and enact this mindset shift. Secondly, lateral moves are just as important as vertical moves when it comes to career development conversations. There are enormous untapped opportunities for people to develop high level, in-demand, human skills. We make the mistake that human skills are somehow innate and over promote people who simply aren’t ready. Effective communication and empathetic listening skills, are so often missing from a new managers repertoire. The good news, with intentional practice, you can increase your emotional intelligence muscle. Finally, we need to reconcile that the nature of competition itself has changed. Organisations are now competing for the best talent and the best ideas; what investors call the imagination premium. A manager’s ability to create a team climate where people can do their best thinking, is absolutely critical to delivering shareholder value. This is a far cry from the old school carrot and stick approach, that continues to prevail in so many organisations.

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