Leadership Advice From My Dad (Happy Father’s Day)

My dad mentioned something to me one day when we were talking about business. He said, “The best managers treat their people as though they need their people more than their people need them.” Of course, the flip side of that is the epitome of poor management: treating their employees as though they are unnecessary and unwanted.

Over time, managers get the team they deserve. Great managers nurture, develop, and create great teams. Poor managers end up with poor teams. Want to do a quick assessment of the quality of a manager? Look at the quality of their team.

I remember a manager who was very resistant to attending leadership training (remember, kids: those who need training the most want it the least and those who need it the least want it the most). He didn’t see why he should have treat his employees with respect, or provide clear instruction and follow up, or try to develop them, etc. He spent the class ranting about all the idiots and slackers he had working for him.

I don’t know his team and never observed his leadership in action, but I can imagine what happened. If he was as abusive, hypercritical, and condescending towards his team in person as he was in the class then any employee with talent, options, and self-esteem would have transferred out of his department or quit the organization. So who’s left? Those without options. Those without talent or work ethic. Those without enough belief in themselves to get another job. The more he abuses them the worse the team becomes and the worse the team becomes the more he feels he has to abuse them to get any work done. A vicious downward spiral. I’m confident that he was surrounded by idiots and slackers but only because he had driven everyone else away.

This doesn’t mean that every employee is a great employee. But the best managers are able to take what they have and bring out their best. They can take shortcomings into account and look for ways to develop and bring out the best that is there.

The easiest way to do that is to approach it from the mindset that you need your employees far more than your employees need you.

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