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The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You – Julie Zhuo

19th January 2023
the making of a manager book cover


The Making of a Manager is about management. The author hopes this books sheds light on the whys of management. Only by buying into the whys can the readers truly be effective in the hows. Although I am not a manager, I hope to learn from this book what a manager wants, or at least what makes a good manager.


Julie Zhuo is a Chinese-American businesswoman and computer scientist. She was the vice president of product design at Facebook and now Co-Founder at Inspirit. 


There are an introduction (Great Managers Are Made, Not Born) , 10 chapters and an epilogue (The Journey is 1% Finished) in The Making of a Manager.

The chapters are

1) What Is Management?

2) Your First Three Months

3) Leading a Small Team

4) The Art of Feedback

5) Managing Yourself

6) Amazing Meetings

7) Hiring Well

8) Making Things Happen

9) Leading a Growing Team

10) Nurturing Culture


In The Making of a Manager, the author shares her own personal experience in the management world. For her, management feels like a deeply human endeavour to empower others. However, this might not be a road for everyone, so we should only take up managerial job if it really suits us.

The common purpose of managers is to help a group of people achieve a common goal. In short, manager should be a multiplier. I believe this multiplier effect is the same as Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers.

Tasks that fill up a manager’s day can be sorted neatly into 3 buckets: purpose (why), people (who), and process (how). The role as a manager is not to do all the work yourself but to improve on the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on the collective outcome.

Being an awesome manager means playing the long game and building a reputation for excellence. However, the author mentions that when you are in survival mode, do what it takes to survive; only when beyond survival in your team’s hierarchy of needs, then plan for the future. She does not only talk about ideal situation, but gives practical advice too.

A good manager know that best outcomes are attained by inspiring people to action, not by telling them what to do. Feedback can transform people in ways they are proud of if done right. Furthermore, confronting reality is always better than spinning disaster in your head, even if you are afraid of the answer.

The way we make progress should also be a work in progress as change is a constant in life. Success is usually the sum of the millions of actions taken by your team during the small, quotidian moments; not the results of a few sweeping decisions.

I think when we are working, we cannot run away from meeting. The author suggests treating meetings as such: A single meeting is not an end unto itself; it is a stepping-stone in the much longer path of creating something valuable.

Once you become a manager, you have to learn to delegate. The rule of thumb for delegation is spending your time and energy on the intersection of what is most important to the organisation and what you are uniquely able to do better than anyone else. Devise an action plan for the team that acknowledges your relative strengths and weaknesses and it can help to achieve better outcome.

At higher levels of management, the job starts to converge regardless of background. The skills required for success are hiring exceptional leaders, building self-reliant teams, establishing a clear vision, and communicating well.

The author self-identifies as an introvert, and it does not hinder her managerial work. Thus, introverts can be good managers too. This book shows what a good manager should be like. I have learned a lot about management from this book and hope that I would have the chance to apply them.

One sentence to recap the whole book: A good manager gets better outcomes from a group of people working together through influencing purpose, people, and process.


  1. Good design at its core is about understanding people and their needs in order to create the best possible tools for them.
  2. No leader gets free rein without accountability – if their decisions turn out to be bad, they are held to task.
  3. The mark of a great coach is that others improve under your guidance.
  4. Effort doesn’t count; results are what matter.
  5. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. Every big dream is the culmination of thousands of tiny steps forward.


3 out of 3 stars

Interested in The Making of a Manager?

You may get the book from through the links below*.

Get the print book from Kinokuniya Malaysia here

Get the ebook from Shopee Malaysia here

*Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through these links.

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