“Do you think I’m a good manager?” The question, asked to me a few weeks ago by a department head of a client, caught me by surprise. I’ve known her for a number of years, and it appeared that she was the only one in the company who didn’t know how good she was.
“No. No I don’t,” I replied. Her face fell, and I clarified my response. “You are a fantastic manager. I have never known you to fall to the level of ‘good’.” She just gave me a look – the one that says, “Stop schmoozing and be honest with me.”
After a few unsuccessful attempts to convince her of my sincerity, I grabbed a piece of paper, wrote six questions on it, and asked her to write down ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each
- Are you decisive?
- Do you accept mediocrity in your team?
- Are team members comfortable challenging your ideas?
- Are you uncomfortable having difficult performance conversations with them?
- Do you acknowledge their efforts and skill regularly, and celebrate their successes?
- Do interpersonal differences within the team ever surface or affect performance?
Her answers were yes, no, yes, no, yes and no.
I looked at the answers, then looked at her and asked, “So exactly where do you think you’re falling down?”
Leading people and managing teams is hard. It can also be a little thankless – with sometimes little or no objective feedback on how we are doing, or recognition of a job well done. The next time you are wondering if you’re a good manager, ask yourself those same six questions. Be honest with your answers, work to fix the things that need to be fixed and give yourself a pat on the back for those things you’re doing well.
“A manager is the ultimate servant. Your job is to make your company, and everyone around you, successful.”