Are You a Great Manager?

Guest post from Jack

can I know whether I’m a Good Manager or a Great Manager?”
assume that no one reading this article is a Bad Manager.)

That’s an important question
that all leaders need to ask themselves. 
“Why is it an important question?”  Because a Great Manager achieves significantly
better results than a Good Manager does – in revenue, in profit margin, in
out-of-the-box thinking, in exceeding expectations, in team morale, in talent
retention, in enhancing the reputation of a company’s brand and the company’s
products and services, and in being perceived as a leader.  So if a leader is not taking the time to
think about what s-he needs to do to continue along the path from Good Manager
to Great Manager, becoming a Great Manager will always be out of reach.


Let’s begin by looking at
what Good Managers do. 

Good Managers deliver
quality results on time.  Good Managers
deliver quality results on budget.  Good
Managers do a good job of hiring talent. 
Good Managers do a good job of setting expectations.  Good Managers to a good job of setting
context for their team.  Good Managers do
a good job of planning.  And more, of

These are important
accomplishments, and the work-world surely needs more Good Managers.  No argument there. 

But is that a high-enough
bar for excellence?  That question (and
its answer – “No”) inevitably leads to these questions:  “What’s
different about a Great Manager?  How do
Great Managers distinguish themselves?”
Read on…


A Great Manager does all the
things that a Good Manager does – but does those things in a world-class manner
(not just in a good-enough manner). 

A Great Manager also does additional things that a Good Manager
does not do.  “Such as?”  Here are a few of
the key characteristics that differentiate a Good Manager from a Great Manager.

Managers have a framework

– one might call it a philosophic frameworkwithin which
they can consider all potential activities and trade-offs.  Key to this is that Great Managers understand
the critical aspect of their role – their overarching framework – which is:  creating
conditions that allow others to succeed.
Of course, Great Managers cannot guarantee that their team members will
always succeed; they can, however, create conditions that give team members the
optimal chance of meeting and exceeding the quality bar in their deliverables.


Managers have a keen and healthy self-awareness of their impact on others,
as regards the people on their team and
on other managers, executives, and members of the board of directors.  That self-awareness makes it possible for
Great Managers to protect their teams (from noise, rumors, inadequate budgets, etc.)
and to create optimal conditions for their teams to do world-class work.


Managers have a very sophisticated understanding of how to motivate their
  They understand that long-term motivation is not always achieved by throwing parties… or
giving gifts… or coming up with gimmicks… or verbal kindness…  or justly-earned promotions… or ensuring public
recognition – though each of those can (in the right circumstances) be good
things.  Great Managers understand that
members of their teams will feel motivated when they are successful – and that
feeling of success propagates self-motivation,
which is long-lasting.  So, again,
creating conditions that allow others to succeed is crucial.


Managers do not believe everything they think.
They regularly ask themselves, “What
if I’m wrong?”
  That question leads
Great Managers to regularly think about alternatives that might be preferable to
the first one they come up with before
making significant decisions.


Managers understand that developing a Great Team requires creating a Great Team
Managers think a lot about how to create a culture in which the sum is greater
than the parts.  They realize that it
doesn’t happen by itself, doesn’t happen by accident.  They understand that it doesn’t automatically
happen by hiring talent.  Creating a
Great Team Culture requires a Great Manager to orchestrate dozens of factors in
a skillful (and often subtle) way.  Great
Managers step up to this task – and do the work necessary to create a Great
Team Culture.  “Why are they willing to spend time and effort on this?”  Because they understand that a Great Team
Culture results in their team exceeding expectations on a regular basis.

is a management
consultant who has mentored dozens of managers. 
He is the author of The Sophisticated Manager:  Essential Leadership Lessons for Developing
High-Performance Team… and Avoiding Critical Mistakes