Business Development

4 Podcasts to Help You Hone Your Management Skills



Management is a varied role, with new issues and opportunities to tackle on an almost daily basis.

This profession can also be quite isolating, as you can’t always confide in your colleagues due to confidentiality restrictions.

If you want to join in with a wider community of managers, agony aunts and even comedians, then we’d recommend that you check out these management podcasts…


Ask a Manager


Many of you may be familiar with the Ask a Manager blog, but there’s also a podcast to accompany this. The host, Alison Green, is an experienced manager turned agony aunt who helps her listeners and readers to navigate tricky management scenarios.

If you feel like other managers in your organisation don’t have the same woes or questions as you do, then you can look to the often-eccentric questions that Green deals with. The episodes vary from deep dives into a single issue to a series of questions answered in quick succession.

There really are no questions too big, small or strange for the host. Not every question comes from a manager, but this gives you both sides when it comes to how employees would like these situations to be handled.

There’s a lot of great advice on tone and culture within this podcast, which can serve you well in sticky situations. As a manager, it’s essential that you’re able to handle even strange requests with candour and guide the conversation to safer waters. This podcast does a fantastic job of teaching you the right language to use to communicate, without letting emotion or awkwardness get in the way.

The episode on How to be a Good Manager from this podcast is an excellent place to start. In this episode, Green chats to a new manager and covers the gap between the desire to be a good manager and the reality of becoming one. Even experienced managers can learn from the points that she makes in this podcast.

She covers everything from defining what you want to achieve while managing others, to assigning tasks to employees whose function you don't fully understand (think managing someone who specialises in a technical function you're not experienced with - you know what you want the outcome to be, but not the actions they'll need to take to get there). 

Green recommends using investigative questioning in this situation – like ‘would this be feasible to accomplish?’ or ‘do you see any elements that I’m missing in the execution of this project?’ to open up a channel of communication.

You’ll find that while many management podcasts will give you wishy-washy platitudes, this one contains real practical advice to help you improve your management style and workplace. Though this weekly podcast has since been wound up by the host, there are still many episodes available to listen to.


The McKinsey Podcast


This worldwide consulting firm is always hitting the headlines for their research and now they have a podcast for you to get into. It’s safe to say that they’re well established within the management sphere.

This podcast forays into a variety of topics, from artificial intelligence to organisational design. In a recent episode, host Simon London examines the role of leaders outside of the C-Suite.

He’s joined by McKinsey senior partner Claudio Feser and associate partner Nicolai Nielsen to take an in-depth look at the role that leaders play, developing yourself as a leader and the core beliefs that drive this concept.

You may want to be a good leader, but how many times have you sat down to define what a leader is? This seems like a simple term to define but once you scratch the surface there are many roles within this one umbrella.

They examine these roles, including engagement, spotting opportunity, driving change and more. Using case studies and experience, they impart interesting information on growing yourself as a leader beyond single scenarios.

Being consistent and creating a strong leadership mindset are also touched on in this discussion. Our preconceived notions and mindsets can stand in our way as leaders, so it’s essential to be aware of the need to develop these too.

This is more formal than many podcasts that you can find out there, but the information is solid with real insight. The monthly episodes of these podcasts are around 30 minutes long, though they are packed with information. You can also read through the transcript of these podcasts to ensure you don’t miss any valuable insight.


HBR IdeaCast

This podcast comes from the team at the Harvard Business Review, with a well-produced back catalogue of episodes. Not all of these episodes are strictly management related, but they often deal with our ever-changing workplaces.

Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch, both senior editors at Harvard Business Review, host the show with the help of experienced guests. In their episode on Why Everyone Should See Themselves as a Leader they’re joined by Sue Ashford, professor at the Ross School of Business.

She challenges the perception that we have a distinct divide between leaders and followers, instead defining leadership as a pursuit for any individual. Ashford tells us that with each member of the team acting as an individual leader on their own tasks, the overall performance can be greatly improved.

The process of leadership is more of a process of claiming and granting, in her opinion. The person that feels confident enough to lead must try and claim the position, while others must grant this structure. Traditionally, we think of one leader of a group, however multiple leaders can prove effective.

If you’ve never thought to challenge what you believe a leader is and the structure that they can be a part of, then it may be time to do just that. You may have all of the qualities that you need to be a successful leader but are conflating them with the qualities that you think you need instead.

To be a great leader, you sometimes need to challenge your own perceptions and leave your comfort zone, these discursive episodes can give you the grounding to begin that process. Their weekly podcasts are around the 25-minute mark and should easily fit into your working week.


How I Built This


When it comes to the big business leaders out there; like Richard Branson, Perry Chen and Bobbi Brown, we often put these leaders on a pedestal. However, this podcast takes us on their journey with them right from the start, with lessons to be leaned each step of the way.

Guy Raz is the host of this podcast and he looks at the business decisions that have influenced some of the most successful brands. Through these episodes, you get a sneak peek of the ways these companies have overcome issues, planned for the future and more. It’s not solely about the entrepreneur, it’s also about the managers and other staff that support them.

One of their most interesting podcasts in this queue is the story of AirBnB’s founder Joe Gebbia. This founder is responsible for a huge cultural shift, which has made us comfortable with a more casual style of accommodation. As well as learning about having a business, they also had to learn how to manage people, lead and grow teams.


If you’re the kind of manager that wants to improve and progress throughout their career, then taking in some of these podcast-based lessons could be the answer. Understand psychology and learn more about what makes your direct reports tick - these tips might just come in handy for you. 


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