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Becoming a manager (19CIE15879)

General information






S semester

ECTS Credits:


Teaching Staff:

Group Teacher Department Language
Daniela Noethen Dirección de Personas y Organización ENG



Previous Knowledge


Workload distribution

8 hours of lecture
16 hours of participatory classes
50 hours of independent work
1 hours of Tutorial / feedback

Limit: 30 students


While large parts of the MSc program prepare students to become experts in their respective fields, an expert position is often only the first step. Many of ESADE's students aspire to be promoted to a management position or to manage their own business. This course helps them prepare for their first position as a manager - and ideally as a leader.

Course Learning Objectives

The promotion to a managerial position is a pivotal juncture in a business career, constituting a reward for hard work and the recognition of talent, but also entailing a whole new range of tasks and responsibilities. In a similar manner, moving from a one-man-business to managing your own staff adds many new challenges to your enterprise and a completely new role to your professional identity.
"I walked in giggling and laughing because I had been promoted and had no idea what principles or style to be guided by. After the first day I felt like I had run into a brick wall." (quote taken from Linda Hill, 2003).
The objective of this course is to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into and prepare you to hit the ground running when the offer to be promoted finally comes round or when it is time to contract your first staff. We'll strive to brace you especially for the first few months as a manager, which tend to be particularly laden with frustration, stress, and anxiety, but also with challenge, growth and personal change.

To this end, along the course, we will consider 1) the main differences between "first violin" and "conductor", between individual performer and manager, 2) the changes in behaviors, skills, and mindsets that (should) go along with the transition from one to the other, 3) the main challenges that are attached to the responsibility of managing others, specifically seen from the perspective of a young manager, and 4) the requisites to build and consolidate a successful managerial career.
By the end of the course, students should have:
- built awareness of the complexity of the transition and the challenges involved as well as familiarized with approaches, best practices, and tools to deal with them.
- reflected upon their own gear for this journey (knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation etc.).
- begun to lay out a strategy for their own evolution toward becoming a manager.
- have started to practice specific skills and the use of tools and techniques useful for first-time managers.


1. From Individual Contributor to Manager

1.1. The Transition - Developing a New Professional Identity

We will explore the necessary changes in behaviors, attitudes and mindsets as well as common pitfalls new managers encounter. We will deal with topics such as micromanagement and delegation, working through others and taking responsibility.

2. Challenges of Managing Others

Managing others rather than only yourself has many challenges. We will consider what is probably most difficult: learning how to influence others effectively (subordinates, peers, supervisors) and how to manage others' performance, above all, giving feedback.

2.1. Power, Authority, and Influence

Developing and using authority, especially as a young manager, is a huge challenge, not only in the relationship with your subordinates, but also with your peers and superiors. Moreover, learning the game of organizational politics is an important ingredient of being influential.

2.1.1. Building Rapport with your subordinates

The balance between authority and trusting relationship can be difficult, especially for young managers leading older employees.

2.1.2. Organizational Politics, Managing Up and Across

While all new managers are aware of the necessity to manage their subordinates, many forget about managing other crucial relationships - those with their peers and superiors. Moreover, managing these relationships is much more challenging, given the lack of authority. We will explore how new managers can influence others over whom they have no direct power and how they can make the best of their relationship with their superiors.

2.2. Managing Others' Performance

Managing your own performance is one thing, managing others' is quite another. We will deal with how to set motivating performance objectives, how to measure performance, and, most importantly, how to give feedback about performance.

2.2.1. Motivation

2.2.2. Peformance Management Process and Feedback

3. Building a Successful Managerial Career

Becoming a manager is not just about how you manage others, but also about how you manage yourself and your career. We will focus on such issues as dealing with insecurities, pressures, and stress, fostering your own development, also in terms of promotions.

3.1. Dealing with Stress and Emotions

The life of a manager is stressful, physically, cognitively, and emotionally. We will look at different approaches to stress and different coping strategies, as well as discuss concepts such as burnout, work-life balance and work-family balance.

3.2. Planning Your Managerial Career

We will explore which resources you can draw on before, during, and after making the transition to manager, and then focus on scaling your career, with topics such as criteria for further promotion, international assignments, and definitions of success.

Relation between Activities and Contents

1 1.1 2 2.1 2.1.1 2.1.2 2.2 2.2.1 2.2.2 3 3.1 3.2
Preparatory readings                        
Individual contribution to course                        
In-class activities                        
Group discussions                        
Individual assignments                        
Student presentations                        


Content and Methodology:

Session overview (may be subject to change depending on course speed, student preferences, or group constellation):
1) Introduction: What is a manager? How is that different from a leader?
2) The transition process: From violinist to conductor, from player to coach
Challenges of managing others:
3) Building authority, rapport and trust with your subordinates
4) Managing performance and motivation
5) Managing performance and giving feedback
6) Organizational politics, influencing peers and managing your boss
Managing your career:
7) Dealing with stress and emotions
8) Building a successful managerial career
9) Exam

Major theoretical concepts and ideas are presented in lectures, which are combined with frequent class discussions for the students to get a deeper grasp of the material and reflect on personal experiences. Alternating with lectures and discussions, cases and in-class activities are used to demonstrate some of the more practical aspects of the material as well as to explore the application of some concepts or techniques (practicing feedback techniques, simulating stressful situations). Online forum discussions require students to reflect on some critical issues and their personal experience. Student presentations enrich the classes, where students take responsibility for a designated topic by researching different sources, challenging their peers as well as giving and receiving developmental feedback (with peers after presentation).
At the end of the course, students are required to demonstrate that they grasp the knowledge presented throughout the course in a final exam (multiple-choice, open questions, short case).



Description %
Individual contribution to course 40
Student presentations 20
Exam 40

Assessment criteria

40% Individual contribution to course
- 25% in-class participation
- 15% assignments
20% Student presentation
40% Final exam

Individual contributions to course

In-class Participation (discussions, role-plays, mini-cases etc.):
Students are expected to
1) Follow class discussion to make relevant comments. Offer (relevant) input often, but without being dominant. Comments are clear and succinct.
2) Prepare for class. This is demonstrated by applying and integrating ideas from previous classes as well as the readings (including cases) to discussions, activities, presentations etc.
3) Be willing to take risks: challenge ideas from the readings or the lecture, your own assumptions, group conventions and practices.
4) Show consideration for others:
a. Not interrupting others, talk loudly during their input or behave in a disruptive way.
b. Provide developmental feedback.
c. Help others to make progress, i.e., help others learn.

Note regarding attendance:
Students are expected to attend all 8 sessions plus the exam. To receive full marks in participation, students have to attend 7 out of the 8 content sessions. Students are requested to contact the professor in advance should any incident (academic, professional, personal) arise that conflicts with their attendance of a session. Non-attendance of two of the regular sessions for these motives implies that the students will be evaluated in an extra-ordinary additional assignment to compensate for the low level of attendance. Students who failed to contact the professor in advance will not be given this option and will be graded with 0 for the hours missed. As with all courses of the program, non-attendance of more than two sessions will automatically lead to an "NP? grading unless justification of the absences has been presented to program management.

After several session, students will be given a question or task to be completed individually before the following session. This can either be a question for individual reflection of the material presented, a question for discussion in an online forum on moodle, or a small task such as a brief case. Submissions for online participation are always due on the Tuesday before the following class, 23:59h (i.e., 1.5 days before class).

Student presentations

Students are required, in groups of 2-5 (depending on class size), to prepare and hold a 15 min presentation as well as a 10min critical discussion on a topic assigned during the first session. Students will be provided with a basic reading as a starting point, but a thorough research of the topic and a critical presentation of the information found are essential. Content and form of the presentation will be evaluated, and students will receive constructive feedback from the professor as well as from peers.

Students are expected to:
1) Research the topic well and find diverse, reliable sources of information.
2) Structure and prepare the content in a way that enables the best possible learning experience for their peers.
3) Present the content in an engaging and informative way.
4) Cite their sources properly and according to academic standards.
5) Lead a critical classroom discussion about ideas and concepts presented.


The exam at the end of the course (9th session) will consist of multiple-choice and open-ended questions as well as a brief case.


Readings include journal articles as well as chapters from different textbooks, such as:

- Linda A. Hall (2003). Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership (2nd ed.).Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
- Quinn, R.E., Faerman, S.R., Thompson, M.P., McGrath, M.R., & St. Clair, L.S. (2011). Becoming a Master Manager: A Competing Values Approach (5th ed.). New York: Wiley.

Further readings will be provided throughout the course.

Timetable and sections

Group Teacher Department
Daniela Noethen Dirección de Personas y Organización