New managers often experience a vacuum of purpose

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


Ideally, individual contributors enjoy building products and solving technical problems. They get to spend most of their time doing just that, and they can concretely see their output. If they’re at a well-run company, their managers have also helped them connect their day-to-day work to some broader mission or impact. This provides them with a sense of purpose. New managers often experience a “purpose vacuum,” since it’s harder to connect their day-to-day work to progress with a larger goal that excites them. This can often lead to adverse behavior, like continuing to perform their old role instead of their new one and/or micromanagement of their team. Another risk is making their purpose solely about “helping their team.” It’s an inherent part of any manager’s job, but if it’s their only purpose, it might come at the expense of their broader satisfaction, or they might make decisions that are good for their team, but not for their company.