The Making of a Manager - Julie Zhuo

The Making of a Manager - Julie Zhuo

How to transform teamwork into value? How to be a good administrator? What is the secret to leading with confidence in new and unexpected situations? Find out in this summary!

Add to Favorites
Add to read
Mark as read

Leading a team is difficult because, in the end, it all comes down to people, and we are all multifaceted and complex beings. Thus, there is no single way to manage a group of people. This is the premise of “The Making of a Manager”, written by author Julie Zhuo.

Teamwork is how the world moves forward. We can create much bigger and more ambitious things. This is how any remarkable achievement happens.

Great managers are created, they are not born that way. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you care enough to read this book, then you care enough to be a great manager. Let’s start?

The book “The Making of a Manager”

Published in 2019, “The Making of a Manager”, written by Julie Zhuo, is a modern field guide with everyday examples and transformative insights.

The book is an excellent, accessible, and comprehensive guide for those transitioning to a management position. It has 288 pages, divided into 10 chapters.

Who is Julie Zhuo?

Julie Zhuo holds a degree in computer science from Stanford University and is a leading design executive on the world stage. She has a blog, “The Year of the Looking Glass”, where she writes about leadership, technology and design, and leadership.

In addition, he is the team leader behind some of today’s most famous mobile and web services used by almost every person in the world, every day, Facebook.

Why should I read “The Making of a Manager”?

If you are new to the position, a veteran leader or want to be promoted, this is the handbook you need to be the type of manager you want to have.

What are the key points of the book “The Making of a Manager”?

  • How to distinguish a great manager from an ordinary manager;
  • How to go through an embarrassing interview and hire someone anyway;
  • How to build trust in your reports by not being a boss;
  • Where to look when you lose faith and have no answers.

Download the “The Making of a Manager” Book Summary in PDF for free

Do you have no time to read now? Then download the free PDF and read wherever and whenever you want:

[Book Summary] The Making of a Manager - Julie Zhuo

What is management?

We all know good and bad managers. It’s not like managers are some kind of rare and exotic species. Most people have one.

If you asked Julie Zhuo what she thought was the position of manager before she started, here is what she would have said:

  • Have meetings with team members to help them solve their problems.
  • Share comments about what is or is not going well;
  • Find out who should be promoted and who should be fired.

Moving forward for three years, having done the work, the author has become wiser. Your revised answer would look like this:

  • Create a team that works well together;
  • Support members in achieving their career goals;
  • Create processes to get work done smoother and more efficiently.

As you can see, the response has evolved from basic day-to-day activities (meetings and feedback) to long-term goals (team building and career growth support). The new answer seems smarter and more adult.

However, the answer is still not right. You may be thinking. Well, what’s wrong with these answers? Great managers certainly do everything on both lists.

True, but the problem is that these answers are still a variety of activities. If I asked, “What is the job of a soccer player?”, would you say he goes to practice, passes the ball to your teammates and tries to score goals? No, of course not.

Would you tell me “Why are these activities important in the first place?”, because the job of a soccer player is to win games.

So, what is the job of a manager? According to the book “The Making of a Manager”, without understanding it deeply, it’s hard to know how to be good at it.

The Three Things Managers Think All Day

Many people find that the multitude of tasks that fill a manager's day is what matters, but without these three things, they lose their meaning: purpose, people, and process.


The purpose is the result your team is trying to achieve, also known as to why.

Why do you wake up and choose to do this instead of thousands of other things you could be doing? Why devote your time and energy to this specific goal with this specific group of people?

What would be different in the world if your team had great success? Should everyone on the team have a similar picture of why our work is important?

If this purpose is missing or unclear, you may face conflicting or incompatible expectations.

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

Getting everyone to understand and believe in the purpose of your team, whether as specific as “make all callers feel good” or as broad as “bring the world closer”, requires understanding and believing, and then sharing it. at every opportunity.

From email creation to goal setting, from single-member check-in to large-scale meetings.


People, also known as “who”. Are your team members set up to succeed? Do they have the right skills? Are they motivated to do a great job?

If you don’t have the right people for the job or don’t have an environment where they can thrive, you will have problems.

To manage people well, you must develop trust with them, understand their strengths and weaknesses (as well as your own), make good decisions about who should do what (including hiring and firing when necessary) and training individuals to do the best you can.


The last of these is the process, which describes how your team works together.

You can have an extraordinarily talented team with a very clear understanding of the ultimate goal, but if it is not apparent how everyone should work together or what the team values are, even simple tasks can become enormously complicated.

Who should do what and until when? What principles should govern decision making? We need to establish common values in our team about how we make decisions and respond to problems.

For managers, important processes to master include effective meetings, future proof against past mistakes, planning for tomorrow, and creating a healthy culture.

Purpose, people, and process. Why, who, and how. A great manager constantly wonders how he can influence these levers to improve his team’s results.

Managing yourself

The first part of understanding how you lead is to know your strengths – the things you are talented about and like to do. This is crucial because good management usually comes from playing your strengths, not correcting your weaknesses.

Whatever your strengths, remember them and keep them, dear. You will depend on them over and over again.

The second part of coming up with an honest reckoning with yourself is knowing your weaknesses and triggers.

Ok, now that we have our lists, the next part is calibration, which ensures that our view of ourselves matches reality.

Calibration is important because it is no use thinking that I am one thing when the world sees me as another.

For example, if I believe I’m an amazing public speaker, but everyone thinks my conversations are boring, I may make a bad decision about whether to come up with a bold new idea rather than ask someone who would sell it better.

Even worse, people will start to disregard what I say because they will conclude that I have a distorted sense of reality.

To develop our self-awareness and gauge our strengths and weaknesses, we need to confront the truth of what we really are by asking others for their intact opinions.

The goal is not to seek compliments; the goal is to offer our colleagues a safe opening where they can be honest – even brutally honest – so that we can get the most accurate information.

The perspective you have changes everything. With a fixed mindset, their actions are governed by fear – fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of being discovered as an impostor.

With a growth mindset, you are motivated to seek the truth and ask for feedback because you know it is the fastest way to get where you want it.

Cultivating the culture

Julie Zhuo says that whenever she asks potential candidates if they have any questions for her, they inevitably start talking about culture: “What’s unique about your team?”; “What are the best and worst parts of your job?”; “How are decisions made?”; “If you could change something about how the company works, what would it be?”.

According to Zhuo in the book “The Making of a Manager”:

“One manager I admire once told me that an organization’s culture is best understood not by reading what is written on its corporate website, but by seeing what it is willing to give up for its values.” 

Culture describes the norms and values that govern how things are done. A manager who was being mentored by Zhuo once shared his epiphany about work in three years.

By managing more and more people, you will play a larger role in shaping culture. Do not underestimate the influence you can have. Even if you are not the CEO, your actions reinforce what the company values.

Here are some other common incentive pitfalls to avoid:

  • Reward individual performance over anything else;
  • Promote short term gains over long term investments;
  • Reward the lack of perceived problems or conflicts.

The way to identify and resolve incentive pitfalls is to reflect regularly on what is the difference between your stated values and how people are actually behaving on your team. What drives them to make certain decisions?

If you are unsure, ask: “Why did you choose to create these features instead of one that customers are asking for?”. If you find that problems are essentially structural, make changes to your incentives to get the right behaviors rewarded.

Books about leadership

In The 8th Habit Stephen R. Covey says the leader must inspire confidence and without it, there is no effectiveness in the projects.

The author José Dornelas defends in his book, Entrepreneurship, the importance of creating and maintaining a network of contacts that can advise you and help in the development and implementation of an idea for the construction of a promising business.

In the recommended Everybody Matters, the authors Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia explore how true leaders must continually study to develop and develop those around them so that they can also become excellent leaders who believe and value people.

How can I apply the ideas from “The Making of a Manager”?

A group of people working in harmony is a wonderful thing to see. Well done, it is no longer about you or someone else, an individual or another. Instead, you feel the energy of tens, hundreds or even thousands of hearts and minds directed toward a shared goal, guided by shared values.

If you do your job well, your team will thrive. Build something that surpasses us, that will be strengthened by all who become part of it.

Good luck on your way ahead. Go with your team and do wonderful things together.

Rate the book summary of “The Making of a Manager”

If you enjoyed Julie Zhuo’s work “The Making of a Manager” please leave your feedback to let us know your opinion and always offer the best to you!

If you want to dig deeper into the subject, you can enjoy and purchase the book by clicking the link below:

The Making of a Manager - Julie Zhuo