Learning from your managers (v. mild GOT S7 Ep1 spoiler)

crownArt’s job is to shed light on our world, and so it was when Sansa told Jon that she’s learnt a lot from Cersei.  I should explain if you don’t watch Game of Thrones – Cersei is a Queen, but not a nice one.  She treats many people badly – murder & torture badly – and Sansa didn’t get off lightly.  So it’s quite shocking that Sansa has learnt from Cersei isn’t it?

Well, no, I don’t think it is.  As we go through life we’ll come into the orbit of many managers and leaders, and lots of them will not carry out their roles in ways we like, but there are still elements that we can learn from.  Either picking & choosing the good bits, or simply not repeating the bad.

So some snippets of learning I’ve received in 20 odd years of working life:

Manager A – Never losing track
My first manager as a graduate trainee was very focused on getting the job done, and used a very simple method for ensuing that tasks that only needed to be completed intermittently (e.g. Monthly) didn’t get missed.  She had a physical file for every day in the month, and put a reminder in the relevant file when something needed doing.  Task 1 every day was checking that file.  Nothing was ever missed.

Manager B – Role modelling
A few managers later I encountered a chap on a mission to make our team respected in the region for our slickness and professionalism.  He didn’t do detail, but he role modelled slick & professional 24/7/365 with everyone.  He left us in know doubt how we would perform.

Manager C – Not moving with the times
Here’s a negative one – the manager who hasn’t understood the change of culture in the organisation & is clinging on to how it used to be done & therefore maintaining the behaviours that got him there. Watching his career stall was a salutary lesson.

Manager D – Taking people with you
Helping an organisation move from combative to collaborative is a difficult long haul. Watching D as she consulted, collaborated and built  partnerships taught me patience and consistency of purpose.

Manager E – Attention to detail
Before I met E I didn’t really understand the term.  E was the most pedantic man I have ever met, and was unshakeable in his painstaking approach, however many people were rolling their eyes & tapping their watch around him.  He ran a tight ship though, and things were done right first time, saving time in the end. It was never the same after he moved on.

Manager F – Communicating your successes
People don’t know what you are doing or what you are achieving if you don’t tell them. And tell them frequently & often – get ahead of the message.  F was a past master at this, making relatively little effort stretch a long way in positive press.  Governmental spin doctors could learn a thing or two from him.

Manager G – Restless curiosity
It’s easy to get myopic, focusing only on your immediate tasks, surroundings and stakeholders.  G has taught me to be always alert to what else is happening, and open to new ideas and ways of working.

I won’t go on further, but every manager and leader has taught me something.  What are you learning from yours?

Graham@HenleyCareers