You have slaved long and hard in a functional role, rising to "manager of accounting" or "maintenance manager" or "HR manager" or any number of other management roles. Now you want to move up a step to General Manager*.
What do you need to do now to prove that you are ready for the move up? Here is what I look for in a potential General Manager.
I look for evidence that a candidate has demonstrated most of the following skills in his or her current role:
- Business acumen - understanding the basic drivers of our business and comfort with the three basic financial reports (P&L statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement) and ratio analysis
- Thinking strategically
- Planning, budgeting and cost control
- Driving for, and getting results through others, including executing strategic and tactical plans
- Developing resources, especially people and teams - including hiring, firing, retaining and developing direct reports (monthly coaching sessions are one great tool for making this happen)
- Workplace culture development
- Delegation and follow-through - and keeping commitments
- Learning on the fly
- Influencing, and building trust
- Conflict resolution
- Communicating effectively - in writing, on the phone, over email, in person, in front of groups
- Managing change
- Making decisions at the appropriate level of risk
- Priority setting
- Problem solving - alone, and with others
- Self-awareness and self-development
I look for deep knowledge in at least one functional area. In addition, I want to see that the candidate has stretched out in order to have an impact on other functions. For example, a manager of operations should have shown the ability to add value on sales calls. Functions you should be aware of and be able to contribute ideas to might include:
- Human Resource management
- Accounting and finance
- Environmental controls
- Sales and Marketing
- Customer service and order fulfillment
- External relations
If you are aspiring to a GM role, what are you doing to demonstrate these skills and knowledge? If you are already a GM, what would you add or take away from this list?
*A general manager usually has responsibility for all aspects of one segment of the business: finance, accounting, sales and marketing, human resources, operations, purchasing and so one.
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