Friday, June 18, 2021

One Job

Is leadership possible without a purpose larger than ambition?

― Doris Kearns Goodwin

When my last manager drove me to quit a great company, little did I know I was in the majority.

Only six months later, Gallup asked a million employees why they'd quit their jobs and found the Number 1 reason to be the manager.

Seventy-five percent of employees who quit did so from sheer contempt for bossypants.

My manager was pretentious, narcissistic and bewitched by her own—and her betters'—power. She was a vestige from an acquisition and completely unlike her home-grown, more admirable, peers. I was unlucky enough to work for her—until I quit. It was a hard choice, but unavoidable.

A manager has one job. One. That's to, as Jean-Luc Picard always said, Engage!

The managers who shouldn't be managers don't get that. They can't. They only get blind ambition.

But ambition has nothing to do with being a manager.

Manager, meaning "one charged with conducting a house of business," came into English from the Italian maneggiare in the 14th century. Maneggiare means "to handle," especially with regard to teams of horses (maneggiare came the Latin manus, meaning "hand").

A manager acts as the "hand" that guides the business. 

She's there to direct work, neither "hands on" nor "hands off."

Her handiwork should be to engage, not to command, demand, or reprimand; and certainly not to manipulate, mandate, or manacleMore like to emancipate—in Latin, "to take someone by the hand."

"People leave managers, not companies," Gallup concluded from its million-person study.

When will companies come to grips with that?

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