Learning from bad managers

The funniest, and perhaps most disturbing aspect of the David Brent character in The Office is that we’ve known one, worked with one, or worse worked under one. I’ve been fortunate to know a few and as a result I unashamedly expect as much from my manager as they do from me.

These guys undoubtedly have enormous pressure heaped upon them, especially in commercial business environments, but what is often true is that they have been promoted way beyond a level where they made their name or added value, and are consequently poorly equipped to drive a strategy, act and be inspirational and effectively manage people.

Worse, some notorious cases forget the basics on the rise to the top. Do any of these seem familiar? Failing to give junior team members the opportunity to present to key customers. Talking over them in meetings. Showing a scant regard for customers by presenting what you think they want rather than what they actually want. Using phones, checking email and pacing in meetings. Parking flash cars outside the office with little forethought of the impression it creates.

Sounds negative, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and here is the rub. People buy people, and bad managers are inevitably found out. If you’re honest and good at what you do you will be fine. Match self-preservation with a desire to add value and pre-empt their expectations. Look after the people you come into contact with on the way up, they are often the kingmakers and the people who will go the extra mile for you.

Observation is an innate human skill and can be incredibly insightful. Watch and learn. Learn what not to be. Learn how not to be behave. Learn how to be inspiring.

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