As a manager, how do you let go of your expert posture?

When you become a manager, it is inevitable to make a change of state of mind, to go from being an expert to a manager who coaches and gives a vision to his team. This change is easier said than done. Generally speaking, all managers with whom we collaborate understand the benefits of this change. However, the application is not so simple, because it requires changing behaviors that we have had for many years! And you, as a manager, do you succeed in adopting the position of manager-coach and abandoning the position of expert?

 As a reminder, the manager-coach helps people find their own answers in order to increase autonomy, commitment and performance. They ask a lot of questions, are good listeners, have the ability to suspend judgment, explore different options and offer development opportunities to others. This is different from the expert manager who more often than not provides the answer. To better assess whether you are able to move away from the expert posture, I suggest that you answer the following few questions.


What are you most likely to do to meet deadlines when members of your team are on a last-minute deadline on an important file?

A. Ask your team members what solutions they propose to meet deadlines.

B. Do the most important part of the work to ensure that deadlines are met.

C. Explain to your team members the importance of meeting the deadlines on this file and clarify the expectations you have of them.


If you answered B, you have opted for your position as an expert. By doing so, you are not making your Unique Strategic Contribution. This has the impact of negatively influencing the commitment and autonomy of your team members. If the situation arises again, before you go back to work yourself, ask yourself these questions:

  •  If I go back to work, which should not be in my backyard, what am I saying no to?
  • If I go back to work, which should not be in my backyard, what am I saying no to? In other words, what is the responsibility that belongs to me and that I must postpone to get back to work?
  • If I were in my employee's shoes, what support would I want from my manager?


What are you most likely to do when you have a discussion with an employee following a poor performance?

A. You tell them what gaps they need to fill and how they need to fill them.

B. Ask them what they plan to do differently.

C. Ask the employee for his or her perspective on performance.


If you answered A, you have not been able to let go of your position as an expert. By doing so, the employee does not learn to identify solutions for himself, because you are doing it for him. It also reduces his commitment and autonomy. Next time, during a performance meeting, ask for their point of view first, before expressing yours. Also ask him for his ideas on how to improve his performance, because as a manager, your role is not in the "how to". Rather, you need to clarify the expectations of the manager, but the "how" he or she will do it must be up to the manager.


When you delegate tasks to your employees, which of the following behaviours are you most likely to demonstrate?

A. You explain why the task needs to be done and your expectations.

B. Encouraging people to be creative in completing the task.

 C. You explain to them what they should do and how they should do it.


If you answered C, you have opted for your expert posture. Explaining to your employee how to do the job has a negative impact on their commitment and autonomy. By doing so, your employee has no latitude in how they do their job. As a manager, you need to clarify the "why" (context) and the "what" (expectations). However, the "how" must be left to the employees. By doing so, everyone can make their Unique Strategic Contribution. The next time you delegate a task to an employee, remember that your part is the WHY and WHAT, and your part is the HOW.


Even for the most experienced managers, letting go of your expert posture is not always an easy task. However, to make it easier to do so, I suggest that you identify one behavior, among those mentioned above, on which to focus. Often when you try to change everything at once, you don't change anything because the bite is too big. So, what is THE behavior to abandon your expert posture that you will put into practice in the upcoming weeks?

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