Seven “Managers” From Heaven by Mufid Sukkar
I recently wrote about “Nine Managers from Hell” so, it is only fair to set the record straight and speak of managers who showed me how to be a better manager.
By the way, I am not talking about leaders and leadership, that’s something altogether different. From personal experience, the most impressive leaders I have come across were actually terrible managers. Let’s face it, to find an inspirational leader who also happens to be a great manager would be rare indeed. So, back to my seven great managers, here they are:
The Oracle: He is the one who seems to have a wealth of knowledge and experience; no matter what information or data you are missing, he has a knack for knowing the facts and placing them in front of you, thus throwing light in to darkened areas of your work. All of this is done with consummate ease and without drama.
The Teacher: He is the coach that nurtures his staff as individuals rather than sheep that need to be dipped in the same pesticide liquid. We all remember our favourite teacher who made us fall in love coming to school and looking forward to his topic. I will always remember my unassuming manager who had the patience to teach me so much about project management.
The Humourist: I am not talking about comedians; they can be irritating, especially when you are not happy about something. Imagine a comedian conducting your appraisal! I am talking about the manager who lightens up your load and puts your problems in perspective with a sunny attitude and makes his point with humorous and memorable examples. He also creates a relaxed working environment for people to work with smiles on their faces.
The Positivist: Like the Johnny Mercer song goes: “You got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…” This manager somehow manages to ignore or set aside the negative behaviour and celebrate the positive one, therefore creating an environment of positivity. A manager of mine once advised me privately: “You must praise in public and criticise, if you must, in private”.
The Teamster: Many companies these days bring in someone to coach their people on team building by taking them away somewhere and getting them to play games, go on a treasure hunt, build a canoe and cross a river, or work for charity for a day. Maybe these things work, maybe not. The Teamster Manager just gets on with building his team spirit on the job; he shows his staff the value of depending on one another, seeing the relevance of each person on their team and to assume collective responsibility. These things are easy to say but damned hard to apply in reality, especially when the going is rough.
The Guardian: Le’s face it, It is so tempting when standing in front of the big boss or presenting to the board of directors and things go badly to begin dishing out blame on your staff who are not present. It is equally tempting to bask in the glory when things are going well and conveniently ignore to give credit to your staff individually or collectively. I suppose It is a survival instinct. However, the Guardian Manager is always ready to take the blame for when things go awry and remembers to credit his staff for the good things.
The Filter: A typical manager is one who is forever translating the company message to his staff and staff views to his executives. Those above him dream up “stuff” and pass it on for implementation, without necessarily going through reality checks. Those below him however, sometimes feel trodden upon and complain about all manner of things from working conditions, to unfair pay, to crazy ideas from up top. Our “Filter Manager” is one who put things in context, edits out inflammatory remarks and views and makes every effort to represent both sides’ views to the other in a diplomatic and positive manner.
Finally, as I was finishing this article, I wondered if I ever came across a manager who had all 7 attributes. I really tried very hard to think of a single person who truly represented all the good things about a manager. Sadly, I failed! I guess there are people out there who tick all the boxes and I would love to meet them. In a way, it is probably asking too much by asking for perfection.