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Moving On Up: How to be a Conscious Accidental Manager

by Richard Foulkes

Who here is really good at what they do?

Who here is even better at leading their business, especially when we first started our own business?

If we were honest in answering these two questions, we are what is called an “accidental manager”. We were so good at what we did we got promoted to manager or thought, I can do a better job than my boss and started our own business.

Then we found out managing or running a business wasn’t as easy as we thought. And we learnt the necessary skills because we had to or we still haven’t!

We’ve all seen people who are really good at what they do become awful managers or business owners.

We are going to look at how to get these skills or how to help people we want to promote into management be successful.

Oh, by the way, surveys show only 1 in 10 people are naturally skilled managers but that management skills can be learned.


Develop an onboarding program for new managers, covering essential leadership skills, company culture, expectations and resources available to them.

This will help accidental managers to smoothly transition into their new roles.

Even if you don’t have a manager now, going back and building this program for yourself will help you understand your business better and help your employees engage with your vision for your business.

Peer or Mentor Relationships 

Becoming a manager or business owner means separating yourself from your current peer group. That is lonely and isolating.

Giving a new manager a peer at a similar level in the business or a designated mentor in or outside the business can give them someone to talk to, learn from and discuss ideas with.

BNI also gives us a peer and mentor group.

Adjust Mindset

Accidental managers and business owners need to shift their mindset from being a doer to an enabler.

This can be a tough shift to make, but their job is no longer to code, crunch numbers, fix broken taps and write reports, although they may retain some of those tasks; their job is now to support, coach and inspire their team to achieve results through their own efforts.

This includes a rethink of what “success” looks like. Success is no longer their own output, it’s the success of the team or business.


We’ve looked at how transitioning from being “on the tools” to management or business ownership is tough and not a natural jump for most of us.

Reflecting on how well we have made the transition ourselves could reveal some blind spots and help us transition our employees into effective managers.

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