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What makes a good Manager?

I am wondering about what makes a good manager? Should I read a book on that?

Now that is a good question. This one goes down to one of the roots of the problem of failing companies.

A manager must clearly see his position in the value chain of a company.

A manager is never doing the work of a technician.

A manager is never an entrepreneur.

A manager makes sure that the customer receives the ordered products for the price agreed upon, in the quality agreed upon, and within the delivery time agreed upon. Not more and not less.

Companies often fail because they do not have the right managers.

Technicians often want to provide a better product than agreed upon, just because they have technician mindsets. These products often become too expensive and they take too much time before they can be delivered to the customer.

Being a good manager is in the first place a question of personality. Good managers - different from a good technician and a good entrepreneur - often live in the past. Good managers often love to keep and to organize collections, such as postage stamps or vintage cars.

A good manager prevents the entrepreneur and the technician from scratching each other's eyes out. Technicians are often too slow and not enough flexible in the eyes of an entrepreneur. Technicians often suffer under the pressure of entrepreneurs.

These differences between managers, technicians, and entrepreneurs are just a few of the many differences that exist.

A must-read book about the difference between managers, technicians, and entrepreneurs is Michael Gerber, "The E-Myth".

Here are some thumb rules for managers:

#1: managers never do the work themselves, they use rewards or they tap shoulders and kick reverse sides to get the job done. Learn about what motivates people.

#2: if it is important, create intensity by following up more often.

#3: if chasing over one channel (e.g. email) does not work then chose another channel (e.g. phone).

#4: refuse to take leadership responsibility for technicians that question your job duties and that finally do not comply.

A manager is not a title, it is a role that i am sure everyone will get to play at some time in their lives.

If you ever have to chase youself to get out of bed in the morning, then you are a manager. As long as you have to interact with people (including yourself) to get a job done, you are a manager.

This is why we should all try to learn how to be a good manager.

The Michael Gerber "The E-myth" as already introduced above is a good place to start. It will describe how the 'manager' role or mindset fits into the business and in society.

Personally, I like this book the best,"Powerful" by Patty Mccord. If you work with teams, reading this book will be like sending your brain to a gym session. This book has one simple, but powerful message throughout: The job of management job is simply to create great teams that do amazing work on time.

So in other words:

A manager is an enabler, not a doer. His responsibility is not to do the material work, but it is simply to do whatever it takes to provide an environment for the team members to do good work.

So how to do that?

There several techniques for "providing an environment for the team members to do good work", four of which are already provided by Martin Schweiger above. I would say the thumb rule #1 mentioned is the most important: You need to learn what motivates the people and build an environment from that. Pick up any sales book and read. I would say most of the techniques for converting a client (listening, diagnosing the postitives and negatives, designing a solution) is the same for motivating people. Afterall, if you want people's buy-in and do good work for you, you need to start by making a sale to them, right?


You are responsible for a whole gang of people that you probably didn’t pick, may not like, and might have nothing in common with and who perhaps won’t like you much.

You have to coax out of them a decent day’s work. You are also responsible for their physical, emotional, and mental safety and care. You have to make sure they don’t hurt themselves—or each other. You have to ensure they can carry out their jobs according to whatever rules your industry warrants.

You have to know your rights, their rights, the company’s rights, and the government’s rights. And on top of all this, you’re expected to do your job as well. Oh yes, and you have to remain cool and calm—you can’t shout, throw things, or have favorites.

This management business is a tall order.... You are responsible for looking after and getting the best out of a team. This team may behave at times like small children—and you can’t smack them* (or possibly even fire them). At other times they will behave like petulant teenagers—sleeping in late, not showing up, refusing to do any real work if they do show up, quitting early—that sort of thing.

* Yes, yes, I know you can’t smack children either.I was just making a point. Please don’t email me.

Like you, I’ve managed teams (in my case, up to 100 people at a time). People whose names I was expected to know and all their little foibles—ah, Heather can’t work late on a Tuesday because her daughter has to be picked up from her play group. Trevor is color blind, so we can’t use him at the trade show.


Mandy sulks if left to answer the phones at lunchtime and loses customers. Chris is great in a team but can’t motivate herself to do anything solo. Ray drinks and shouldn’t be allowed to drive anywhere.

As a manager, you are also expected to be a buffer zone between higher management and your staff. Nonsense may come down from on high but you have to a) sell it to your team, b) not groan loudly or laugh, and c) get your team to work with it even if it is nonsense. You also have to justify the “no pay raises this year” mentality even if it has just completely demotivated your team. You will have to keep secret any knowledge you have of takeovers, mergers, acquisitions, secret deals, senior management buyouts and the like, despite the fact that rumors are flying and you are being constantly asked questions by your team. You are responsible not only for people but also for budgets, discipline, communications, efficiency, legal matters, union matters, health and safety matters, personnel matters, pensions, sick pay, maternity leave, paternity leave, holidays, time off, time sheets, tight deadlines and leaving presents, industry standards, fire drills, first aid, fresh air, heating, plumbing, parking spaces, lighting, stationery, resources, and tea and coffee. And that’s not to mention the small matter of customers.


And you will have to fight with other departments, other teams, clients, senior bosses, senior management, the board, shareholders and the accounts department. (Unless of course you are the manager of the accounts department.)

You are also expected to set standards. This means you are going to have to be an on-time, up-front, smartly dressed, hardworking, industrious, late-staying, early-rising, detached, responsible, caring, knowledgeable, above-reproach juggler. Tall order.

You also need to accept that as a manager you may be ridiculed—think The Office—and possibly even judged by your staff, shareholders and the public to be ineffective and even superfluous to the carrying out of the actual job in hand.* *

If this all makes you feel a bit bleak about being a manager—don’t be. Managers are the stuff that runs the world. We get to lead, to inspire, to motivate, to guide, to shape the future. We get to make a difference to the business and to people’s lives. We get to make a real and positive contribution to the state of the world. We get not only to be part of the solution but also to provide the solution. We are the sheriff and the marshal and the ranger all rolled into one. We are the engine and the captain. It’s a great role and we should relish it—it’s just not always an easy role.... And all you wanted to do was your job....

Luckily there are a few hints and tips that will have you sailing through it looking cool, gaining points, and coming up smelling of roses. These are The Rules of Management—the unwritten, unspoken, unacknowledged Rules. Keep them to yourself if you want to stay one step ahead of the game.

Management is an art and a science. There are textbooks of thousands of pages devoted to how to do it. There are countless training courses. (You’ve probably been on a few.) However, what no textbook contains and no training course includes are the various “unwritten” rules that make you a good, effective and decent manager—the Rules of Management. Whether you are responsible for only one or two people or thousands—it doesn’t matter. The Rules are the same. You won’t find anything here you probably didn’t already know. Or if you didn’t know it, then you will read it and say, “But that’s really obvious.”

Yes, it is all really obvious, if you think hard enough about it. But in the fast-paced, frantic, just-about- coping kind of life we lead, you may not have thought about it lately. And what isn’t so obvious is whether you do it. It’s all very well saying “But I know that already.” Yes, as a smart person you probably do, but ask yourself honestly for each rule: Do you put it into practice, carry it out, work with it as standard? Are you sure?

from Richard Templar, The Rules Of Management - A Definitive Code for Managerial Success

just one more thought that I had when I wrote an article about the future virtual law firms:

A virtual environment makes that “little kingdom” set-up less likely to happen. In a work environment that is based on a division of labor like in our firm, the transition from brick-and-mortar to the cloud suddenly brought clear definitions of interfaces between responsibilities, and that firm-wide: we have no longer individuals who co-operate on the basis of a set of mostly unspoken rules, we have instead positions with clear sets of instructions that have to be followed in order to provide the required result. These positions are filled out by a team of people with similar expertise and experience, each individual wearing several hats at the same time, thereby being able to provide backup when needed. The former managers became more like workload balancers, and we have started to automate their load balancing work where possible. In such an environment, individual performance can easily be checked and compared. That reduces space for office politics. And no more coffee machine meetings are needed to be part of the gang.

Today, in a virtual law firm environment, it is just about doing your work reliably, and you are good."


here is a job that requires a lot of management skills: Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Controllers are there to help the air traffic and not to demand submission.

Your First 30 Days as a Supervisor

Gary North - April 09, 2021

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"A man who gets the reputation of rising at dawn can sleep to noon."

This is often attributed to Winston Churchill, but there is never a footnote. But it is something that Churchill might have said. I am convinced that the observation is true.

Azurebandit has been an engineer for all of his career. Recently, he accepted a transfer into management. It was called a promotion.


https://www.garynorth.com/members/forum/openthread.cfm?articleid=302295#302295He will now have to re-position himself. He must first persuade himself that he knows what he is doing as a leader. Officially, he gets about 30 days to do this. I hope he won't take this long. Leaders need to be self-confident. But this self-confidence should be based on experience. This takes a lot longer than 30 days. Then he must persuade others that he knows what he is doing. He had better be able to do this in 30 days. This is when all eyes will be on him.

He should get out his calendar. He should mark off 30 workdays: six weeks. That is his window of opportunity to re-position himself in the minds of those below him and those under him.

First, he must get his mind around what the primary function of the leader is. That function is this: mediator.

A mediator represents two groups to each other. He represents senior management to those under his jurisdiction. He represents those under his jurisdiction to senior management. A first-rate leader is capable of performing this dual system of representation.

His new boss wants him to represent the company's interests. He sees this as the new manager's primary task. This view is incorrect. His primary task is to represent his subordinates to management. Why do I say this? Because what management really wants is maximum productivity out of the people under his jurisdiction. Management has a general mission, but it is vague: "make a profit and don't mess up." In contrast, his subordinates have highly specific missions in mind: to represent them individually whenever things get tight. They also want guidance from him. But when push comes to shove, they want him to serve as a barrier against whoever is doing the pushing. They are highly motivated individually. In contrast, senior management is motivated far less specifically.

There is a rule in books on leadership: the officer eats last. In terms of his rank, the officer has the right to eat first. That is why he should eat last. He should limit pulling rank to issuing orders. He wants those orders obeyed. To get these orders obeyed systematically and rapidly, he has to gain the trust and the cooperation of those to whom he has issued the orders. He has to get emotional support from those under his jurisdiction if he wants an efficient team.

This idea of officers eating last is not intuitive. We think in terms of a hierarchy: a chain of command. The person at the top issues orders to those underneath him. They serve him. He does not serve them. Jesus put it this way:


But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do (Luke 17:10:7-10).

Yet the life of Jesus was the opposite. He served the disciples. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

A wise leader works to persuade his superiors and his subordinates that he is working primarily for them. He is their servant. That is why he is a mediator. The mediator abandons this goal: looking out for number one. If you look after those above you and those below you, you will become number one. Your competitors do not understand any of this.


The newly appointed manager will have to have meetings. He will have meetings with his subordinates. He will have meetings with his superiors. In both cases, he has to be seen as a servant.

The most important meeting is going to be the first one with the subordinates. He has to make it clear that he is working on their behalf. He is going to make their lives more productive. If he can, he is going to cut out the paperwork. This is never easy, but that is what he has to do. Yet he needs paperwork. So, he has to ask for the paperwork in a way that persuades those under his jurisdiction that he is doing this to make the team work better. He is not laying on extra work in order to cover his backside.

In dealing with a subordinate, he should adopt the rule announced by Ronald Reagan in relation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union: "trust, but verify." He has to make it very clear to each person under his authority exactly what that person is required to do in order to perform well generally, and he will have to do this again when he issues specific orders. He must be specific. People under his jurisdiction have to know exactly what he expects of them. If he is a mumbler, he is not going to be a good manager.

He has to set deadlines. He also has to set performance standards. This means that he needs reports. He should break down every assignment into a series of deadlines for reporting. But the reports will be short. They do not have to be detailed. The goal here is to establish a predictable system of reporting in which each of the subordinates reports that he is on schedule . . . unless he isn't. This enables everybody on the team to trust each other. This enables everybody to defer some degree of responsibility to other people on the team. This is basic to teamwork.

The most important single task of the reports is to provide a warning of a looming crisis. There must be no cover-ups. There must be no bad surprises. The subordinates must trust him not to bring negative sanctions against them. They must see him as a problem-solver who is there to protect the team by enabling the team to deliver the goods on time and on budget.

The leader therefore must position the reporting requirements in terms of this goal: providing each member of the team with the confidence needed that every other member of the team is going to deliver on time. The leader represents the team. He also represents each of the members of the team to the other members. Again, his position is mediatorial.

Here is what he should ask for: a one-page report. If a team member has a lot of information, he should provide this in part two of the report. But part one has to be limited to no more than about 250 words.

He provides the same kind of reports to his superiors. He asks of his subordinates only what his superiors have asked from him.

Actually, his superiors probably have not been overly specific. The new manager gets to set the agenda for anything that has not been delivered to him in writing. It is his deal. It is his style. It is his responsibility. He must position himself early as a highly efficient individual who is not going to require a lot of management time from those higher up in the chain of command. They want a low-maintenance manager. All they want to know is that their projects are covered. They do not want to have to intervene. They also do not want unexpected blowups. They want everything to run smoothly.

Up and down the chain of command, people are worried about two things: missed deadlines and blowups. They want everything to be predictable. They want everything to run smoothly. Missed deadlines and blowups disrupt senior management's broad agenda. Any middle manager who can avoid missed deadlines and blowups is not going to be fired. He may even get promoted a few years down the line.

So, the new manager voluntarily provides a weekly report on Monday morning on what his team produced in the previous week. He may have to write this on Saturday. It is a one-page report, but it may be accompanied by support materials. The superior is going to read the first page. If he feels safe, he will skip reading the support materials unless it looks as though a blowup is coming. The leader must warn his superior on page one of any possibility of a blowup. He must provide what he expects his subordinates to provide: a distant early warning.


A wise leader persuades those above him and those below him that he is acting on their behalf. Then he must perform in such a way that both groups become persuaded that he walks the talk. He delivers the goods.

I found this in Griffin, Abbie; Price, Raymond L.; Vojak, Bruce. Serial Innovators (p. 191). Stanford University Press.

"Dear Technical Managers:

Well, as should be absolutely crystal clear to you at this point: without you, there can be no Serial Innovators in an organization. Your personal relationship capabilities are virtually the only way that an aspiring Serial Innovator can become a Serial Innovator. You hold the future of the organization in your hands. We cannot emphasize this point strongly enough.

Our hope is that these stories have resonated with and encouraged you. We hope that you saw yourself in how you manage those who fit the Serial Innovator or potential Serial Innovator profile, and also those who serve in other roles, especially Inventors. We hope that you have had the privilege to serve your customers and organization by working insightfully and effectively with Serial Innovators. We also hope that this book will help provide the foundation you need to protect Serial Innovators from standardizing HR policies and impatient executives.

Still, we fear that you have Serial Innovators but don’t deal effectively with them. Usually, this failure is characterized by not providing the resources, time, or access required by Serial Innovators to innovate. However, it also can occur by over- or undermanaging them or even by competing with them for visibility, financial reward, and promotions. Second, we fear that you might not take the time to develop those with the potential to become Serial Innovators by not giving them sufficiently challenging technical problems, appropriate exposure to customer needs, or freedom to explore innovative possibilities. We understand that you might be reluctant to do so because it takes so much time and because you, too, will have to become something of a renegade, and this is difficult in formalized organizational structures. Third, we fear that you might not deal effectively with those who are not Serial Innovators, perhaps by misidentifying potential Serial Innovators and giving people without the essential characteristics a license to indulge themselves—a mistake that will be recognized and resented by true Serial Innovators. Finally, we fear that, in spite of your best effort, powers beyond your control will overrule your attempts to either develop or work effectively with such individuals as we have described herein.

Our challenge, then, is that you reflect carefully on your personal situation, particularly seeking to understand deeply your own motivations and aspirations as well as the characteristics and personalities of those who report to you, including the subtleties of their strengths, weaknesses, and potentials for development. We encourage you to get to know those across your organization who have successfully filled the Serial Innovator role or managed Serial Innovators. Use the insights developed within those relationships to better understand how to effectively identify, develop, and manage those for whom you have organizational responsibility. Appropriately fight the political fight, build for the long term, and seek paradigm and structural shifts.

In many respects, the expectations on the managers of Serial Innovators are as high or higher than those to which we hold Serial Innovators. However, if you rise to these challenges, you also will either succeed by discovering how to manage effectively in your organization or by realizing that certain factors are missing that cannot be overcome. Thus, you will either contribute appropriately to bringing new insights to market or will have the confidence to move on to more fruitful organizational grounds. “Curse” If you do not rise to these challenges, unlike the Serial Innovators, you may not wither on the vine. Instead, there is the likelihood that you might even be promoted to higher levels of responsibility within your organization, having not permitted failure by engaging in what might be labeled as “reckless” attempts to bring “risky” new ideas to the marketplace. However, those who see and understand will know the truth, and your ability to lead at these higher levels will be compromised, undermined by your having taken a self-serving path at this stage in your career.

Our dream for you, your Serial Innovators, your potential customers, and your firm is that you will succeed. We hope you will take up the challenge of learning to successfully identify, develop, and support not only the Serial Innovators in your organization but those fulfilling all of the roles critical to innovation.

With great respect, Abbie, Ray, and Bruce