Don’t be a Manager, be a Leader

Open letter to managers who aspire to be leaders.

You say you want to motivate me, to garner a loyalty so strong I will work long hours when a crisis hits and take time to bring others up to speed, that I will refer my friends as prospective employees.

You tell me you are proud of your track record and want to be known as the person who brought game changing products and services to market.

And you will measure your success by low attrition and praise from your management.

But what about me? What do you want for me? Tell me. Listen to what is important to me. Ask me what resources I need to accomplish my goals. Learn what I see as obstacles for the project, my role and my goals. Ask me what I like about my job. Learn about my aspirations. Ask me what you can do to help me be the best I can be in my current role and what we can do to conspire to get me closer to my career goals.

Help me understand my job. I want to know exactly what is expected, by when. That way, I can measure my own progress and see my own success. And if you do it right, when I am falling behind, I will know it and ask for help. But I need that road map.

Want my loyalty? Then give me yours. Acknowledge my accomplishments and contributions to your management, to my peers. Make sure they wind up in my reviews. Recognize I am more than my job. My family supports my efforts. Thank them, too. Nothing like a night on the town compliments of the company to acknowledge my herculean efforts and their contribution – after all, my family suffers from my long hours. Acknowledge their part in your success. Even an hand written thank you note is appreciated.

Need me to step up? Let me know what that means? Tell me the outcome you expect and the timeline, stakeholders. Help me understand how it fits the corporate and department vision.

Want me to train others, mentor? Then mentor me. Show me how it’s done.

I am motivated when I know my efforts contribute to the good of the company. Help me understand how my work fits in. Tell me often and specifically that I make a difference. I want to brag about our corporate mission. Please make sure I know and understand what it is.

Just because I am quiet doesn’t mean I don’t need recognition. Learn how to say, “Thank you,” and “I appreciate” in a personal way that reflects what is important to me. And tell me specifically. “Hey, Good Job,” just doesn’t cut it. I am an adult, tell me what I did that makes you say, “Good Job.”

I will cherish a heart felt thank you with recognition a lot longer than I will remember an after hours pizza celebration. Your personal efforts of thanks are more important to me than a few extra carbs.

Do I need course correction? Don’t wait for my review to tell me. I want to be successful. You know what I need to do to get there. Help me see that by offering your support. Tell me what you need from me and what resources you can offer to me to get there. Give me a chance to articulate how I see the situation. If I still don’t perform, ask me what I’d do if I was my manager. And please, don’t compare me to my colleagues. Compare my efforts to the expectations.

Empower me to find my own solutions. Don’t tell me what to do, ask me. Here’s what we need to accomplish, what do I see as the best way to get there. If I am wrong, ask questions, tell me about the variables, let me contribute. I’m still not there? Then ask, “What if” and let me follow your thinking.

And about those extra hours. Want me to volunteer? Tell me what needs to be done by when and just watch how quickly I sign up. Why would I do that? Because I am proud of my work, my role and my team. I really appreciate the way you encourage and acknowledge, especially when you do it in front of the Executive team. It makes me want to do more, better. Thanks, Boss.

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