In Praise of Incompetent Managers

Imagine you weren’t as competent as you believe.

How would you treat your team?

remember that person who belived in you

The problem is, you can do it “better” yourself.

Do-it-yourself managers:

  1. Get things done.
  2. Want the job done right.
  3. Have confidence and grit.
  4. Don’t need to be told what to do.
  5. Make important contributions.

Competence gets in the way, when you do it yourself.

Do-it-yourself managers:

  1. Become overwhelmed in the long-term, because they can do it better than others, today.
  2. Often say, “What’s wrong with them?”
  3. Limit organizational capacity and potential.
  4. Feel powerful giving permission.
  5. Don’t develop others.
  6. Hoard knowledge.
  7. Need to be at the center.
  8. Have trust issues.
  9. Believe it’s my way or the highway.
  10. Don’t appreciate those with other skill-sets. “The ‘good’ people are like us.”

Do it with is better than do it yourself.

Do-it-with managers:

  1. Know what makes teammates tick. Project: Make a list of your teammates. Now, list their passions, character traits, skills, and aspirations. How will you help them develop and express their best?
  2. See energy in others and fuel it. Successful leaders constantly follow, manage, and fuel energy. People with energy represent the future.
  3. Ask, “What do you think?”
  4. Say, “You try,” after brief explanations. Skill is developed as you go, not before you go.
  5. Allow others to struggle, but stand ready to help.
  6. Give meaning to jobs by explaining the big picture.
  7. Accept that it takes time to develop skills.
  8. Do one-time activities themselves, if they are good at them.
  9. Assign stretch projects.
  10. Help people find their confident stride. It’s better to go slow now to go fast later.

Bonus: Relax and breathe when things go wrong. “What are we learning?

Remember that person who believed in you? Be that person for others.

How might managers overcome the tendency to do it themselves?

When should managers do it themselves?