I caught myself saying something peculiar this week. I said, “I like busy managers.” At first, that may give you pause. It may seem a bit odd, and perhaps even a little cruel. After all, managers tend to be some of the hardest-working people at a company. They often show up before their team, leave after everyone is gone, and carry the burden of stress on top of it all. So, why would I take pleasure in the massive workload of these managers?
I know what gets people promoted into management.
These things will get you promoted. Then once you get promoted, what happens next? You work even harder to prove to everyone that they made the right choice.
People that get work done attract more work to come their way. It never ends.
I know what it takes to turn a manager into a leader.
A busy manager has an opportunity to make a choice. It’s a choice that makes all the difference. The choice is only possible amid the pressure of busyness.
Door #1: Become a workaholic. Sacrifice yourself for your team to the detriment of yourself and your team. Then, become mediocre. Do less work. Sacrifice quality. Lose your spark. Stop caring.
No one sees themselves heading for door #1 when they get promoted into management. Yet so many end up walking through it anyway.
Door #2: Learn to lead. Force yourself to delegate. Force yourself to develop capable leaders on your team who work with minimal supervision. Do what only you can do. Let others do what they can do, even if not as well as you can. At times, fade into the background and let your team members shine in the spotlight. Become a conduit for leadership development and multiplication. Get creative with empowerment. Inspire innovation.
It’s my absolute joy to see busy managers walk through Door #2 and become leaders. But the truth is, they’ll never do it unless they are forced to by absolute maddening busyness.
As a leader of leaders, what’s my role in this?
Well, I’m the mean guy that comes up with the mountain of work. I have an unlimited and insatiable drive for what I want to achieve in our department. My vision runs years down the road with no end in sight. Where does work come from? Me. It comes from me.
I also point the way. I attended a leadership development class this week with my direct reports, and they all gave me the nickname, “Yoda.” I must admit, it fits. I’m not going to take on Darth Vader and save the galaxy, but they will, and I’ll certainly get them ready to do so.
So yes, I like busy managers. I empathize because I was one for quite some time. It’s not easy, but that’s the crucible that’s necessary to figure out how to become a true leader.