The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

This book has a different, more human approach to management and leadership, unlike most books that are usually written by top-level CEOs. Julie's journey from IC role to Manager is more relatable, at least to me.

3 premises I got from the book are building trust, giving great feedback and running efficient meetings.

To build trust; Don't worry to show vulnerability and give specific feedback with details for both good and bad.

To give great feedback; Be as clear and detailed as you can and as soon as possible while it is fresh.

To run great meetings; have a decision maker in the meeting, invite as fewer people as possible, give everybody equal time to speak and email meeting notes with everything discussed and the next steps to take.  

If you need to take 1 thing away from this book, that would be genuinely caring about the people who report you. Care about their personal life as well as their professional life. Your job is not telling them what to do, but inspiring them to take action. Basically don't be an asshole with a huge ego! Be human! Care about them.


A manager's job is to

  • build a team that works well together,
  • support members in reaching their career goals, and
  • create processes to get work done smoothly and efficiently

The first big part of your job as a manager is to ensure that your team knows what success looks like and cares about achieving it.

The best outcomes come from inspiring people to action, not telling them what to do.

A manager's job is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together through influencing purpose, people and process.

Managing is caring.

What caring does mean, however, is doing your best to help your report be successful and fulfilled in her work. It means taking the time to learn what she cares about. It means understanding that we are not separate people at work and at home - sometimes the personal blends into the professional and that's okay.

Your job as a manager isn't to dole out advice or "save the day" - it's to empower your report to find the answer herself. She has more context than you are the problems she's dealing with, so she's in the best position to uncover the solution. Let her lead the 1:1 while you listen and probe.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel, goes the popular saying, I've forgotten the specifics of that email, but I still remember the difference that apology made.

Just because your report didn't work out on your team doesn't mean it's on him - in fact, I'm often reminded of the wise words of my friend Robyn Morris: "Perha[ds it is you who should not be his manager, not the other way around."

What three qualities do I possess that I am the proudest of?
Curious, reflective, optimistic.

What are the top three most common pieces of feedback from my manager or peers on how I could be more effective?
Be more direct, Take more risks, and explain things simply.

Nobody wants to be asked, "Will you be my mentor?" because it sounds needy and time-consuming. But ask for specific advice instead, and you will find tons of people willing to advise.

A great decision-making meeting does the following:

  • Gets a decision made
  • Includes the people most directly affected by the decision as well as a clearly designated decision-maker
  • Presents all credible options objectively and with relevant background information, and includes the team's recommendation in there is one
  • Gives equal airtime to dissenting opinions and makes people feel that they were heard

In the last few minutes of a meeting, get into the habit of asking "So before we break, let's make sure we agree on the next steps..." After the meeting, send out a recap to attendees with a summary of the discussion, a list of specific action items, who is responsible for each, and when the next check-in will be.

If you have any comments or questions about this book notes, you can write me at Twitter @oykun or email me at hello[at]

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