Creating Great Managers: How Do You Think of Your Role?


The topics of workplace culture and employee engagement are at an all-time high in businesses across all industries. Just a few short years ago candidates and prospective employees were forced to rigorously compete with one another vying for positions at great companies. The reality we find ourselves in today, is pretty different. The ability for an employee to research and learn about an organization (online, social media, in the news etc) before ever setting foot in the door has completed shifted the paradigm. It is incumbent on the organization to promote itself and to effectively differentiate from other companies in the competition to attract first class talent.

The challenge to find, hire and retain great people is increasingly difficult and one of the highest determining factors of an employees’ engagement and willingness to stay with your organization is decidedly influenced by the relationship they have with their direct supervisor. Gone are the days of “Because I said so” or the “I’m the boss” mentality. Leaders that consistently get the most out of their teams must lean on high levels of self-awareness and have the wherewithal to ask themselves “How do I think of my role?”

We see this across modern organizations who have evolved beyond the traditional employee/manager relationships and encourage their leaders to think of themselves as just that-leaders. The ability for you to successfully coach, mentor, understand, guide, correct and provide honest and open feedback to your teams all begins with how you think of yourself. Do you view yourself as a champion for your team members? Do you prioritize one on one time with direct reports for coaching discussions? What kind of personal relationship have you built with the team you are there to lead and support?

Regardless of where you are in your tenure as a leader, self-reflection is imperative to ensure you are creating a workplace where people and the business can thrive. Keep in mind the following ways to think of your role in order to create a culture of excellence:

  • Collaborate with team members, engaging them to create ideas or solve problems. While you are surely the “team leader”, seek consensus while remaining accountable for making final decisions.
  • Be proactive in removing any obstacles (e.g., interdepartmental issues, unexpected challenges with customers, system inefficiencies, knowledge gaps, and gaps in talent).
  • Work to embrace the title of Coach, so that you may teach, strategize, and lead by example. Like the coach of any sports team, you need to compete with the talent you have on the field.
  • Serve as an advisor to those who work for you, giving perspective on strengths and weaknesses, advising on how to improve skills and excel, and advising on how they can best engage successfully with the team and the organization.
  • Decide early on to be accountable for you and your team and realize that the buck does and must stop with you. Throwing your team members under the bus won’t cut it.

While being a manager is a great privilege and a milestone many people look forward to in their careers, there is a reason that the phrase “The Burden of Leadership” exists. When you become a leader, you lose the right to only think about yourself. The balance of this series will cover the additional steps required to empower great leaders and we look forward to seeing the results your teams enjoy.