- Posted by Gavin Pommernelle
- On February 15, 2016
You’ve probably had both good managers and bad managers in your career. But have you used your experience to become a better manager yourself?
I was reflecting on this question recently and made a list of the attributes I’ve seen both in good and bad managers. Specifically, I’m talking about my direct managers – MDs, CEOs or board members who I was directly accountable to, who assessed my performance and had direct control of my future within an organization. Fortunately for me, over the last 25 years I have worked mostly with good managers.
So here’s my list.
- Took the time to know me – They made an effort to understand my skills, capabilities and interests. What could I be better at? What do I stand for as a person? What motivates me to succeed?
- Shared their objectives and priorities – Understanding this bigger picture – what kept them awake at night – helped me align my objectives and priorities to theirs. No spoon-feeding was required; I understood the game plan.
- Stretched beyond my comfort zone – They encouraged me to work in areas that could benefit from my innate abilities – areas I would never have considered for myself. They then provided guidance to help me succeed in my own, authentic way.
- Took some risks on me – For new projects and positions to which I had little experience, it would have been easy for them to appoint seasoned contractors or consultants. Instead I was given the opportunity to learn and grow.
- Expected a lot from me – The good managers were not easy managers; I had to work extremely hard to meet their expectations. But with every new opportunity I was driven to fulfill their trust.
- Valued my opinions – At times we disagreed and they made the final decision, but they genuinely wanted to hear my perspective and were open to alternatives.
These are the common traits of bosses that I still talk to years after we stopped working together. Today some are personal friends, others are clients and some continue as my mentors.
While many of the characteristics of weak managers were the opposite of the first list, there are some specific behaviors to highlight.
- Did not have my back – Yes, I take responsibility for my mistakes. But throwing me under the bus for their poor decision doesn’t fly.
- Did not share the bigger objective – Without context, suggestions were rarely good enough. Then they complained people were not proactive enough.
- Did not keep their promises – Made commitments that were expedient, but with no follow through.
- Made decisions in a bubble – They may have gone through the motions of requesting feedback, but it was obvious they had already made the decision. They could then not understand why people stopped sharing ideas and suggestions.
I left managers with these traits even when it was not in my interest to do so (financial or otherwise). Not surprisingly, these were also the managers whose style adversely affected business performance and team morale.
Adopt the Learning
I’ve never expected my managers to be perfect, however in my experience they were self aware and recognized where they had blind spots. They were comfortable enough in themselves to get support internally from their team or board, or externally from peers or coaches. Their effective people management skills built the foundation from which they could lead and bring about success.
These effective attributes are what I’ve tried to emulate over my career. Thank you to all my managers for enabling my personal and professional growth.
Do these attributes fit your experience? Have any more to share? Use the comment section below.