Management Myth # 2: A great worker = a great manager

This is one of the greatest myths – that a great worker should get promoted and – voila! – would become a great manager.

Why is this not true? Because:

  1. You lose a great worker;
  2. You might not gain a great manager.

The math just doesn’t add up.

Because you have two very different skills sets.

A great worker

  • A great worker is committed, dedicated, organised and follows instructions to a T.
  • He loves his job and is proud of doing his best.
  • He is the ‘bum-on-seat’ superhero of the company.
  • Whatever needs to be done, he will do. And do well.
  • True, he does come up with his own ideas, his own plans. He thinks of ways to work more effectively, to make the product or service perform better.
  • He is highly organised and can put his finger on any aspect that his boss might call for at any given moment.

So – why NOT make him a manager?

(Especially since he sometimes asks for the promotion – might even deserve one without having to ask for one.)


Because a manager is, in essence, not a worker.

  • He delegates. He tells others what to do.
  • He might do a bit of bum-on-seat, but most of that would be related to planning work for others, structuring it, allocating resources – and then he opens the office door, and starts giving instructions to his workers.
  • Although he is as task-focused as the worker, he has to deliver his tasks to people, and much of his time is making sure that the communication is happening easily and correctly.
  • He deals with conflict.
  • He reallocates tasks or resources.

So, what the problem?

And if a good worker

  • is not able to delegate (but would rather do the work himself),
  • is not good with conflict (especially if he is a bit of a people-pleaser),
  • is not willing to take responsibility for success as well as failure that others might bring …

… then he would not be a good manager.


So what should you do with a good worker who doesn’t have good managerial skills or has no inclination for management?

Make sure that he has the option of being promoted so that he could become an expert in his field.

Not a manager.


About the author

Lalien CilliersLalien Cilliers. Project Manager. Content Development Manager. eLearning Developer & ICT Trainer [MIITP]. Website creator and social media pager. Helping others learn tough stuff the easy way. Eternally curious. Author of: 9 things you should know … if you ever want to become a manager: The New Manager series and A Guy’s Guide: New Home: How to Find and Furnish Your Own Place