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Becoming a Manager: Mastery of a New Identity Hardcover – January, 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Hill vividly documents the experiences of 19 first-year managers. Initially, these managers focused on formal authority and setting business performance agendas while ignoring the responsibilities of accomplishing things through others and network building. "They were genuinely surprised, though, by the discontinuity between the producer and manager roles and between their expectations and the realities of management." Hill clearly explains the interpersonal problems of dealing with employee diversity and evaluating the performance of others along with the stressful and emotional side of making the transformation to management. She also addresses how new managers can learn from their experiences and the implications for those responsible for management development. Unlike Joseph and Susan Berk's Managing Effectively ( LJ 6/1/91), which examines what first-time managers should know, Hill discusses the actual transformation of individual performers into effective new managers. Strongly recommended for all types of business collections.
- Jane M. Kathman, Coll. of St. Benedict Lib., St. Joseph, Minn.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Leadership When There Is No One to Ask: An Interview with ENT's Franco Bernabe" with S. Wetlaufer (July 1998) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 331 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; First edition (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875843026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875843025
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. She is the faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative and has chaired numerous HBS Executive Education programs, including the Young Presidents' Organization Presidents' Seminar and the High Potentials Leadership Program.

Hill's consulting and executive education activities have been in the areas of leadership development, talent management, leading change and innovation, implementing global strategies, and managing cross-organizational relationships. She has worked with organizations worldwide, including General Electric, Reed Elsevier, Accenture, Pfizer, IBM, MasterCard, Mitsubishi, Morgan Stanley, the National Bank of Kuwait, AREVA, and the Economist.

Hill is the coauthor, with Kent Lineback, of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, which the Wall Street Journal named one of "Five Best Business Books to Read for Your Career in 2011." Hill is also the author of Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership (2nd Edition), as well as course modules, award-winning multimedia management development programs, and numerous HBR articles. In 2013 she was named by Thinkers50 as one of the top ten management thinkers in the world.

Hill is currently a member of the boards of State Street Corporation, Eaton Corporation, and Harvard Business Publishing. She is a trustee of The Bridgespan Group and the Art Center College of Design, an advisor for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund USA, and a special representative to the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College. She is also on the advisory board of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program.

Hill holds a PhD in behavioral sciences and an MA in educational psychology, both from the University of Chicago. She received a BA summa cum laude in psychology from Bryn Mawr College.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this to anyone involved in "management", particularly where you have to lead people.

The value of this book -- to me -- was not that it revealed anything new (most managers would instinctively know what the issues are when working with a team). What it did for me was to give me assurance that the trials and tribulations that I've gone through (some of which are daily occurances) are normal. That told me that I AM NOT ALONE! -- for management is a lonely business.

This book took me sometime to finish (440 over pages) but a very readable book. Not overly academic. I particularly liked the section on "Is Management Really for Me?".
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Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book as one that should be kept handy for all new managers transitioning from the role of "individual producer". I also recommend it for those top performers who feel it is likely they will be "approached" about a management position and/or are wondering if management is their "cup of tea". It's also of benefit for managers OF new managers (who sometimes forget what it's like), and HR professionals responsible for designing New Manager training programs.
It's very well written, even humorous at times, and details the actual statements and insights of these new managers. What an absolutely accurate sanity check!!! These folks really let their hair down and were completely honest about their experiences.
Not only did I dog-ear and underline my book all over the place, I wouldn't hesitate to buy this book for a friend or close colleague who is considering or transitioning to management. It's like being in a roomful of other new/fairly new managers and getting honest feedback on the ups-and-downs, the highlights, and the things you would love to have known before accepting the management position!!
Linda Hill's analysis in the final chapters is the icing on the cake. Based on this study, she offers extremely valuable insights into how corporations need to support and train new managers, and suggests things that potential and new managers need to be aware of and prepare for.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the few books that explores and discusses the reasons that new managers FEEL the way they do. It helped me through my own difficulty transition from top individual producer to manager/director of others. I recommend it often in conversation or speaking engagements and actually give it to each new manager I promote, as required reading. Lastly, I have found it most effective when read after a month or two of performing as a new manager. By: Pete Dignam, Sales Director and General Manager, ICG Communications
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Format: Paperback
This is the second edition of Becoming a Manager and although only three chapters have been added, their impact is considerable.

The original edition is based on interviews with 19 new managers and their thoughts on becoming a manager. As such, it was an interesting, but somewhat hard going (sentences and paragraphs are wordy), read. Although the 19 managers are all from customer service or sales, their stories translate well to other professions.

This latest edition adds chapters on Exercising Influence Without Formal Authority, Building an Effective Team, and Learning For A Lifetime. I found the chapter on teams a little light in it's description of process management. However, it's these chapters and in particular the one on influence, that makes this book much more useful for the new manager than the first edition. Every manager should use Hill's description of sources of personal and positional power to improve their influencing.

By Hill's own admission, she has become far more prescriptive in the latest edition and this is a real benefit for readers. For instance, in the most recent chapters, Hill asks questions that will enable the manager to apply the key concepts being covered. But, these "how to"s are hard to find.

If you are a big picture person, or someone who likes to get plenty of "how to" action type suggestions, then this book is not for you. However, if you are someone who always wants to know the reason "why?" something works or doesn't work, you will enjoy this book.

Bob Selden, author of What To Do When You Become The Boss: How new managers become successful managers
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Format: Paperback
Some insights from the highly readable book -

1) 80% of the time people reach out to you as their manager is for a 'negative' reason. Do not be a Prima Donna and let it effect your outside reaction. Be like a duck, calm and serene on outside and paddle like hell underneath.

2) Learning is a two-way street. Your manager also learns from you. Exchanging candid feedback is like a protected left turn, however, where your manager always has prerogative.

3) First line manager has significant higher number of pulls - one from upper chain of management, another from multiple personalities who are deeply embedded into delivery.

4) Managing people is often being able to deal with 'half-truths'.

5) When top individual performers become manager, it is often 'heap reversal'. Organization takes a superstar from the top of the heap, and puts her at the bottom of another. This indeed causes the big surprise.

6) Never manage out of fear.

7) Delegation is one of the toughest part to figure out. The rope extended could be too high, where people feel left out and on their own; or too low where managed feel trampled by micro-decisions. 'Supportive Autonomy' - to work as coach where needed is one good model to tune the delegation.

8) Successful career in management is like climbing a ladder - skipped rungs almost always create a safety hazard.

9) Formal authority is a limited source of power.
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