Why a great boss could be the key to success
UPDATED JULY 2020
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There’s so many articles out there on how to hire the right person, or how to select the right company, but one of the most overlooked aspects of the world of employment is choosing the right boss. I think it’s subconsciously something most job seekers are aware of, but they often don’t look beyond whether they like someone or not. Whilst it’s essential your manager is someone you like it’s just as important that they are someone who can help your career. Most of us had a favourite teacher who inspired and developed us, but often when we are in the world of work, we stop looking for this inspiration.
There’s a lot of things in life that are about luck; the tech company that has a great idea and, very importantly, has that idea at the right time for the market to need it. Often it’s the timing that differentiates between success and failure. Being in what we call the right place at the right time. The singer who is spotted vs. the singer who wasn’t.
You can also be lucky and unlucky with managers, but by being more analytical about what your long term objectives are, what you are prepared to put in to the achieve these, and conditions you need to reward your success, and the manager you need to develop you, you can increase your odds of success. One of the things that stands out when we meet individuals who are successful, is that they quite often have someone who championed them in their career, or they’ve had a mentor.
So what do good managers do that bad managers don’t?
1. They encourage you to contribute ideas, help you raise your profile, and credit you with the idea
2. They are confident enough to recognise your potential and don’t see you as a threat
3. They encourage you to apply for new roles, when they can see you are outgrowing your current role
4. They understand that having a great team makes them look great
5. They praise, but they aren’t scared to give critical feedback if necessary
6. They aren’t scared to delegate and stand back. As Alex Ferguson explained in a managerial secrets case study compiled by Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse for the October edition of the Harvard Business Review: “I don’t think many people fully understand the value of observing, but I came to see observation as a critical part of my management skills. The ability to see things is key or, more specifically, the ability to see things you don’t expect to see.”
Often the bad manager will be driven by fear. Fear that they will be outshone, exposed to structural change, or that they won’t be needed. Unfortunately they are often the managers who build bad teams and who suffer the highest levels of turnover.
Job seekers often lose sight of the fact, and it’s very understandable, that interviewing is a two way street and therefore they need to really understand a manager. To ask them about their experience of developing others, their thoughts on training, how they engage their staff, and what KPIs they work to.
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