The Golden Rule of Great Management


There’s a trend brewing. After years of trying to centralize decision making, a lot of people at the Director level across this country have never managed people. This power-focused management model has left a lot of people without actual managerial experience and making org charts even more oddly shaped. Rather than looking typical with one main manager, a few people reporting to him and more reporting to his direct reports, it’s beginning to look more like a planetarium, with all the stars revolving around one sun.

These employees who have been work horses for so long finally get the attention they deserve. But rather than pursuing more great work, they are now prompted to let go of the reins, coach and most challenging, at least in my case – trust. They’ve read for years about great leadership, inspiration and what makes a great manager but lack the experience that comes with years of screwing it all up first. It probably doesn’t help anything that the bar is already set extremely high as they look to these leadership “experts” who usually point only to their success, not to the bumps in the road to the top.

Just yesterday I was talking with a client who’s about to manage her first direct report. Rather than excitement at the new challenge – she was just plain old scared. With no context for management or experience, besides being managed herself, she was put out to sea to create a great experience for this junior marketer.  While she’s doing her due diligence and reading about management styles, she’s guessing at best. When it all boils down – she’s just trying to do what’s right.

That’s the context for so many managers and people in HR and recruiting – just trying to do what’s right but unsure of what that exactly is. I’ve written about it before.  Watching the #WorkHuman conversation this week during Michael J Fox’s presentation ( I was just stalking the hashtag, no Orlando for me), proved this again. The more he talked about the value of people – the more I couldn’t help but think: That’s the management lesson we’re all forgetting about.

Without regurgitating each of his one liners, here’s what I sorted out as the bottom line.

When anyone in your business makes it their job to appreciate and empower people, everyone wins. 

That’s it. That’s the hack. Caring.

Were you waiting for a big reveal? Sorry. It’s going back to the golden rules of being kind and taking care of people.

I want to believe that in more scenarios, if your team knows that you genuinely appreciate them and want them to succeed – you can be a great manager. That doesn’t mean you always say the right thing. It doesn’t mean you always pat them on the back and say “great job” even when they suck. It doesn’t mean they always have nice things to say about you. It means you push them a little farther. You help them extend their boundaries and have new experiences. It means you show them – not just tell them with cheesy Pinterest-ing employee appreciation crafts – that you care.

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