What kind of manager do you prefer?
Officially, I’ve had one manager in each job I’ve worked since college, and that adds up to 4 managers.
Most of my jobs have had matrix organizations, which means you report to someone day-to-day that isn’t your manager who runs your project. They have a huge impact on your career, can “fire” you from the project, but they are not officially your manager. With that into consideration, I’ve had at least 20 people in various leadership positions directly above me, who I looked to for guidance, input, feedback, and leadership. Almost all have been men. There were 2-3 women depending on how I define leadership – only one of the women was a manager by title.
Unlike Save, Spend, Splurge, I can’t draw any conclusions based on gender.
For general good management techniques, there are better blogs to read than this (Ask a Manager is my personal fav). Management 101: Set clear expectations, address performance problems frankly, hold people accountable, delegate appropriately, don’t micromanage, etc. The list isn’t that hard to come up with, but the execution is crucial and hard to do well.
Aside from being basically good managers, the leaders I’ve thrived under share a few qualities.
- Logical, extremely competent, quick thinkers. This is by far the number one priority. I don’t have innate respect for hierarchy, and will only follow my manager if I respect them. I can’t respect someone whose thought process is muddled and unclear.
- Big picture thinkers. They can listen to someone talk details for five minutes, then they can summarize the main points that were made in a sentence or two. (My project manager on my last job could not give succinct answers to ANYTHING.)
- Straightforward and honest. I don’t have to guess at their motives or what they are thinking. They share as much information as they can.
- They inherently trusted me to be competent and expect me to figure out solutions. I have no patience for people who underestimate me or seem unsure whether I can do the job. I expect to have to prove myself to a certain degree, but if my leader doesn’t start from a place of assuming competence, it’s an uphill battle to have a good relationship.
- Bonus points for fun/humorous and inspiring people, but I’m most inspired by people who are simply spectacular at their job, which is captured above.
Basically, they they are what I aspire to be. This also pretty much applies to coworkers, but I give coworkers (slightly) more leeway than someone I report to.
In my first job, I had one leader who mostly fit this bill. At my LA job, I had two leads that were amazing in my six years there. At my last job, no one I worked directly with fit this (but there was some in the company that I expect could have). At my current job, I’ve already met three people that fit this bill (two in leadership roles, one more of a senior coworker) – and it has only been 11 months. This is why I like it here.