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Can you count your great managers on one hand?

No matter what business you’re currently working in or where you are at in your career, are you able to pause and reflect on the managers that had a positive influence on your career? These people should be referred to as leaders instead of managers if they have indeed made such an impression on you. It’s also just as easy to do the opposite and reflect on the terrible and difficult times that you had with other managers. Depending on how long you have been working, I hope the number of positive leaders outweighs the poor manager number. I also hope that you can count these positive leaders on both hands and feet. Unfortunately, in many cases, individuals will not be able to do this.

The next step is to reflect on what attributes or actions these great leaders did to keep you engaged and happy. These are the leaders that you would work an endless amount of overtime. If they called you up tomorrow, you would consider quitting your current job to work with them again. In almost 20 years of work experience, I can personally count about 7. When I think about these people, they did the things you would expect from true leaders such as:

- Recognized your potential and gave you stretch work or assignments

- Always made time and actively listened to your ideas, frustrations, and personal/career struggles

- Set high expectations for you and the group and noticed underperformers

- Organized training and career development opportunities for you and coworkers

- Checked in periodically and showed an interest in what you were doing

- Took the time to say, "Thank You", "You are Doing a Great Job", "Your work is appreciated and being recognized", “You’re a valued member of the organization”, “You are consistently adding value to others and the organization”

- Gave you constructive criticism and frequent feedback on performance.

- Involved you in opportunities or work that excited you

The list can go on and on, but your life or career has been changed by working for this leader. The same exercise can be done for the negative experiences with the managers that you never want to work for again. Many of the actions will most likely be the direct opposite of the positive ones. As you progress your career and hone your leadership skills, the final step in the process is to figure out how to get on that "One Hand" list of your direct reports and coworkers. In fact, how can you get that #1 rank to be a person people want to continually work with. This is a sign of a true leader.


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