We learned how to become a great manager faster so you can too!

The science behind becoming a better manager

3-minute read

Being a manager these days is harder than ever — and becoming great at it takes a lot of time and energy we often don’t have. But the world needs great managers right now, as only 20% of employees across the world strongly agree their managers actually motivate them. What if there were a way to simplify the complexity of leadership and become a great manager faster? 

The Leader Lab book provides that solution with simple, highly-effective skills that will level up the way you lead. As you master the skills our LifeLabs Learning experts have laid out, you’ll notice your life getting easier, and you’ll see yourself making a bigger difference in the world every day

First, some context — here at LifeLabs Learning, we’ve spent over a decade studying what makes great managers different in order to identify the specific, observable behaviors that matter most. We’ve taught over 200,000 managers all over the world from thousands of innovative companies like Reddit, TED, Etsy, Dropbox, Lyft, and Tinder.  

Turns out, not all skills are created equal, which is why we’ve zeroed in on the smallest changes that lead to the biggest impact in the shortest time. We call these ‘tipping point skills,’ and this book will help you master them to unlock countless other skills and handle any challenge that comes your way. Think of these tipping point skills as the primary colors — there are only three of them, but together they combine to make infinite, complex colors.

So, what skills matter most?

Of all the skills we studied, 8 kept rising up to the surface as the tipping point skills. We call them the CORE 8:

  • Coaching
  • Feedback
  • Productivity
  • Effective 1-1s
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Meetings Mastery
  • Leading Change
  • People Development

Just knowing the skills that matter most makes your life easier and helps you focus your energy on the highest leverage development areas — but we’ve also identified how to help managers gain these skills faster. How? We take a lab-based approach to learning in our workshops and in the book. 

Think about the difference between chemistry class vs. a chemistry lab — in a class, you memorize concepts, but in a lab, you mix together chemicals and blow stuff up. There's a reason it's called the Leader Lab — it's always more helpful (and fun!) to get hands-on.

Try it yourself with this mini-lab moment:

Let’s say your direct report comes to you and says: “I’m interested in taking on this new project, I just need to get your approval first!” You’re afraid they’re already at max capacity with responsibilities. What do you say?

[Pause and think about it now before you read on.]

While your initial instinct may have been to immediately tell them no, there’s a better way to get to the heart of their request. We’ve found that great managers ask more questions than average. In fact, they actually default to questions instead of statements — a habit we call ‘Q-stepping.’

Try it yourself: Come up with 5 DIFFERENT questions you can ask your direct report. Here are some examples to get the inspiration flowing:

  • “What’s exciting to you about this project that’s making you want to take it on now?”
  • “How do you feel about your workload at this time? What are some areas where you could use additional support?” 
  • “What tradeoffs do you anticipate making?”
  • “Given our time constraints, how might we incorporate aspects of the project that you’re excited about into the work you’re doing now?”

Want to test your management skills and take them to the next level? Pre-order your copy of The Leader Lab book by September 10th and take $15 off!