How To Develop Great Managers

How To Develop Great Managers


Creating great managers

The path to develop great managers is a process that evolves over time. Yet being the role model of a great manager is the best training you can ever provide a future manager.

Last week we looked at different tiers that, in descending order, increase the likelihood of developing an ever-growing number of Explorers in your organization.

Explorers, as you recall, are those high-energy folks who show up for work each day bristling with enthusiasm and eager to contribute to the realization of your corporate goals.

Tier 1 – the optimal tier for encouraging people to become Explorers – comes about when you have the perfect storm of both great managers and great work.

And while you can’t always be sure of providing great work, if you take time to develop great managers, they will always do all that is in their power to bring out the very best in their folks.

So, that begs the question: what makes a great manager great?

What Makes a Great Manager?

In my work I have conducted surveys involving thousands of employees in dozens of different organizations and have personally conducted hundreds of interviews with people working in these organizations and hundreds more exit interviews with people leaving, a very clear picture has emerged that highlights the differences between those who are great managers, and those who aren’t.

Many years ago, I learned a definition of great leaders: great leaders cause those around them to willingly go along with their thoughts, ideas and suggestions. The operative word “willingly” was underscored to emphasize that those with authority can mandate performance while those with the gift of great leadership cause it to occur willingly, and therefore in a fashion that is both desirable and sustainable.

In workshops and seminars with managers I often, provocatively, state that the role of managers is to manipulate the performance of their direct reports. I choose this word deliberately so as to invoke a response and it seldom fails to do so.

Develop Great Managers, and They’ll Develop Great Staff

Some have been offended by the use of the word manipulate as it has unfairly earned a connotation of adverse influence yet, it simply means to change or influence which means each every time we ask a question with an expectation of an affirmative response, we are, arguably, guilty of manipulation.

And if we buy into the notion that the role of managers is to manipulate performance then the best, most effective and productive form of manipulation is to be nice.

The data gathered in the hundreds of surveys and interviews mentioned above have long convinced me that there is no more powerful tool than the final two words in the above paragraph.

Great managers intuitively understand this and, further understand that the cost of being nice is zero whereas the costs of not being nice is incalculably high.

It’s About the Golden Rule

To be nice essentially means to treat others as they wish to be treated – not as we wish to be treated.

In his ground-breaking 1984 bestseller, “Influence: “the psychology of persuasion,” Dr. Robert Cialdini discusses, in depth, the six principles of influence.

He describes likability as one of the principal methods of enabling influence over others, and while we can all agree that management is not – and should not – be a popularity contest, it doesn’t hurt to be viewed as likeable by those who report to you.

Dr. Cialdini explains it this way, “No surprise that people prefer to say yes to a request to the degree that they know and like the requester. A simple way to make things happen in your direction is to uncover genuine similarities or parallels that exist between you and the person you want to influence, and then raise them to the surface. That increases rapport.”

And while likability is unquestionably the foundation upon which management greatness rests, there is much more in the making of a great manager.

Stop by next week when we delve deeper into the ways to develop great managers.

Till we read again.


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