There’s easily tens of thousands of different books, plans, and ideas about how to become a better manager. I’m going to propose to you that the basis of becoming a better manager- or developer, or baseball player, or anything else for that matter- is amazingly simple and can be reduced to five steps:
1) Make a list of all of your responsibilities in your current position.
2) Do the same for all skills needed, then all relationships.
3) Go through each one, item by item, and apply a simple self-evaluation. What do I do well? What do I not? For the things I don’t do well, what is it about them that I don’t do well?
4) Write a plan of action for each item defining what you believe will make you improve. Make the plan smart- simple, measurable, and objective. Do it like a project plan- write a scope, create task list, organize into ordered task list, then move on to a project schedule.
5) Set priorities, organize your project plans as you would any other program portfolio of projects, and execute the plan.
It’s that simple. Will it make you a perfect manager? No. Will it make you a better one? Absolutely. The key is to take intelligent, measured action. Take action and follow up on it daily. The effort of thinking about it, the effort of following your plan, and the effort of holding yourself accountable to your plans will make you change what you are doing for the better. Too many times, we want to improve, but we end up so busy that we fall back to the familiar, we fall back into our old patterns- and that gets us nowhere.
There’s of course many things you can do to expand on this- ask others to review you on your task list and provide feedback, for example, create a blog and be public about your accountability to your plan (nothing like the pressure of the public eye to keep you on track), or a hundred other things.
However you do this, do it now. Take action. Today.