8th February 2018

A Manager’s Role

I came across the following words when studying for a coaching accreditation recently “The managers role is to help each employee reach inside and release his or her unique talents and use them in a way to improve performance. In a sense, the manager’s role is that of a catalyst. The manager helps an employee aim his or her talents at the organisation’s goals and its customers’ needs”. I was so impressed by the succinctness and brevity of the definition that I posted it on social media and was rewarded with a number of positive comments.

I wonder how many managers and leaders have such clarity of understanding of their role. I well remember, many years ago, I had wanted to be a manager in business for as long as I could recall, I don’t know why exactly, but after some years of effort, application and enthusiasm I was given the top job in a stand-alone trading company. As a very young Managing Director with full P&L accountability I suddenly felt the need to be running less on instinct and to be more consciously competent. As I began that phase of my development I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by the question ‘what was I supposed to be doing?’

There are so many supposed priorities pulling at the business leader that it is too easy to get lost in the detail and forget the real reason that you are there. I think it was Jack Welch who said that before he was a manager, business was all about what he could do. Once he became a manager it was all about what he could enable others to do. The extract above reminds us that the real role of the manager is to help, to catalyse, his team to perform at a higher level, both individually and collectively, than they would do without her help. I think we can often forget this in the frantic jacuzzi of daily customer and organisational demands. We can get drawn into the urgency of putting out fires and handling of crises and forget to enrol and develop the people who have the power to solve every problem they are faced with if they are working together as a cohesive team, using their individual strengths and talents to a common goal.

It would be useful to work out your own definition of your role as a business leader or manager.