In this article, we will explore the following topics:
- Your mandate to behave as a leader
- Does this mandate also apply to your manager?
- What behaviors do you observe?
- Understanding and managing your manager
- Are you immune from these conditions?
Being a manager, you are well aware that it is a tough job. A lot is at stake, and in the past years, an extra layer of pressure has been added onto your shoulders.
The urge to be a “Leader” rather than a “Manager” seems to be everywhere. And the message has taken exponential proportions.
In almost every business article you read, in the trainings you follow, and in the business events you attend. It is everywhere an ambition.
The message is clear: “manager” seems to be a concept of the past; you have to behave as a “leader”.
👉 What about your own manager then? Leadership should start with you but should not end with you.
If leadership is not verified in the facts, it’s a mere mantra.
Your own manager, regardless of their own management style and whether you believe that they are anything but a “Leader” themselves, will expect you to demonstrate your leadership skills.
When you really spend some time thinking about your own manager and their management style, in some cases, one can genuinely wonder whether the mandate also applies to them.
And if the answer to the question is negative, it’s as if some disease (*) or condition is impacting their behavior.
I have listed here five common syndromes that affect some managers.
All have in common the fact that the communication, or rather exchange, is one-directional, i.e., bottom-up.
Let’s review those:
When most contacts with your manager are related to your own and the team’s performance: “What are your numbers”? “What’s your plan to close your gap”?
Note: a well-managed CRM could easily halve this type of exchange.
2️⃣ Tunnel vision
When a couple of KPIs hide the complexity of the business.
In this case, your manager is blind to any other information (market changes, talent-related items,).
In a nutshell:” Managing from behind the desk”.
When managers rarely meet with clients or business contacts outside their company. They also tend to avoid interacting with their team (other than through email) unless absolutely necessary, such as during planned meetings.
“My way or the highway” or said more politely “one road only leads to Rome”.
Not receptive to others’ perspectives and « colors »… except to senior management requirements.
5️⃣ Delusion or disconnect from reality
When your manager asks your already stretched team to generate 30% more turnover while your prices dropped by 20%, and you have been asked to shrink your team.
Back to the fundamentals!
The key responsibilities of a manager are to build an organization, a team, enhance everyone’s potential, and address the full potential of their business.
However, managers affected by the five « diseases » see themselves as « controlling entities ».
The managers described above might find themselves replaced by well-functioning CRM and BI platforms, and certainly some efficient AI applications sooner rather than later.
So, what should you do if your manager is affected by any of those (sometimes all of them)?
An immediate option is to leave that environment.
It appears to be a real option if you tried to adapt, without success, and if it affects your well-being, if not your health, thus your performance.
To bring a positive note, truly toxic managers are fortunately scarce. And, it is your duty to express yourself, rather than accepting a situation you believe is affecting you and your team negatively.
Before any reaction, it is always recommended to get the big picture and consider the causes that translate into these syndromes affecting your manager.
To better understand your manager and see the above-mentioned conditions as symptoms rather than serious concerns, here is a grid I propose:
1️⃣ Such behavior may stem from the obligation to deliver or a lack of supporting tools (CRM, BI).
2️⃣ When KPIs are managed top-down, and your manager has to report on a frequently basis. Leaving very limited time to engaging into real interactions.
3️⃣ When managers are “swamped” with emails, meetings, and other demanding messages; they are often expected to “know everything about everything”. This is among the first discoveries newly promoted managers make when getting into the new position.
4️⃣ Companies are often driven top-down, and managers, while part of the team, are also an integral part of the management team. Execution on plans is a part of their job.
5️⃣ Taking apart the case of companies that are run by their owners and main shareholders, who don’t always have ambitions to grow no matter what, the rest of us will have to comply with whatever was decided by your board. It’s your job to find ways to increase the effectiveness of your team which can turn positive outcomes. Engaging in discussions with your manager and questioning the rationale behind objectives assigned to you and your team is always a viable option. As the expert in your field, it is crucial for you to be aware of the (business and human) potential it can deliver. This awareness means that, when presented with a target, you possess all the necessary elements to engage in fruitful discussions—and perhaps request additional resources.
Interacting with your manager. What is your profile? What is their profile?
If you do not want your exchange with your manager to turn into a confrontation on those items, make sure you are well aware of the best way to engage a discussion.
Ask yourself the right questions upfront:
- What drives your manager?
- What is their mandate, and what is being asked of them?
- What kind of pressure are they subject to?
- What is their profile and what is the best way to align? Numerous ways can help spot profiles (DISC, Myers Briggs… and common sense).
This being said:
- What do you expect?
- How will you interact?
- How will you “defend” your case?
Lastly, are you immune to these conditions yourself?
« Hell is paved with good intentions » and you might have contracted one of these syndromes without even noticing it.
Always be aware. Seek feedback.
It’s time to empower yourself and your team, and embrace effective leadership.
The prescription for success starts with you. Act now!
👉 Ready to discuss a cure?
✅ Book your slot now to discuss your business challenges and uncover quick wins in a 30-minute consultation!
(*) This article is not, of course, intended to offend anyone actually affected by these syndromes.