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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 07-Nov-07


Wednesday 07-November-07

My ideal manager

I was asked the other day as to what sort of person I would like to be my manager. This gave me great pause for thought, as I know from experience that a bad manager can be a few steps short of hell and a great manager can lead you to life-changing achievement.

Overall, I've been lucky with my managers, with only an occasional dud. Perhaps the worst was an old-school command-and-control chap who also was a master of mushroom management (stick you in poo and keep you in the dark) and seagull management (unexpectedly fly in, poop on you, then fly away), amongst other dysfunctions. I stayed three months and left for HP, where I experienced contrastingly good management.

One of the best managers I had was when I worked in a lab of 70 software engineers. He was a French teacher by training and knew relatively little about techie stuff. His approach was to agree what needed doing, ask what you needed, get it for you, and then keep the world off your back whilst you got on with it. He also did great team development stuff and we had all kinds of fun.

Many of my managers have been younger than me, but that has never been a bother. My base of knowledge and experience is quite broad, and if my manager appreciates and leverages it (rather than fearing or ignoring it) then this is a basis for a good working relationship. It is difficult to respect those who do not respect you, and mutual respect is a fundamental goal of any good manager.

Some people seek managerial positions for reasons of self-aggrandizement, where the core focus of all they do is themselves. Such people love recognition and hate criticism, which often leads them to work hard, but it also makes them terrible managers as they grab the glory from their subordinates and blame them for any failures. Great leaders reverse this principle, taking personal responsibility for failure and giving credit wherever possible to their people.

And unselfishness was at the heart of my answer about my ideal manager (or perhaps I should say ideal leader). I will follow a person with a great idea. I will follow a person who respects and cares for me. But I will not follow a narcissist for whom subordinates are just a means to personal glory.

Your comments

"Some people seek managerial......" - Very nicely written..

-- Ravi

Right now, i probably have the worst of all managers. not only does she contradict herself more often than not, but she has the tendency to hide behind the division chiefs under her even before anything has gone wrong. but when something good comes up, she takes the credit for herself. what\'s worst is that she mouths verses from the Bible without actually manifesting the virtues through her actions. a quotation comes to mind: we must preach at all times, and if necessary, use words. so now, you probably know that my ideal manager is one who does the opposite of what my present manager is doing.

-- jes

Dave replies:
Sympathies, Jes. Sounds like you may have a narcissist on your hands. If so, then you best plan is to find a way out as you'll never please her.

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