What Managers Need to Remember: By Your Pupils You’ll Be Taught

Article main image
Apr 13, 2015

“Can you believe it? Now because of realignment, he works for me.

We worked together for years and he was my boss. He was extremely mean and cruel during those years and would just nit-pick through all my assignments. I needed the job so I stayed and put up with it.

But you know I just could never ‘get even’ or stoop that low.”

Karma is described as the underlying principle that brings back the results of actions to the person performing them. In other words, what goes around comes around.

It could also be described as this: We harvest exactly what we sow; no less, no more.

What a weird scenario

As we move up the career ladder, we manage lots of people who cross our paths and move on, hopefully, to bigger and better things.

These comments above were told to me by a friend who saw their former boss falter, and now the tables had turned. It caused me to think of just how many lives I have affected in some way.

Over the years I have kept in touch with everyone that has worked for me in some way or another. This was pre-Facebook. We congratulate each other on accomplishments, new babies, new careers, etc.. They always tease me when they said they heard somebody repeat one of my “Ron-isms,” which was my take on just about anything.

We were all seeds at one time

We were all seeds that were planted at some point in our careers. However, the gardener/manager that is successful in creating a bountiful harvest uses every approach to make sure his seedlings grow to be strong.

Our direct reports are no different. We listen, we advise, we guide, but never should we mistreat, misguide, or deliberately be downright mean to anyone.

Everyone that we interact with in our professional lives should be shown every courtesy imaginable. My daughter told me the story about how she was wooed into taking this job. She got there and did really good work, but her relationship with her manager deteriorated to the point that the manager would take credit for her ideas.

Everyone in the room knew who did it, but this person did not want the sun to shine on any of her seedlings. She wanted it all for herself.

We have all had managers that left a lot to be desired. But one of my Ron-isms is that, “You can learn a lot more from a bad manager than you can from a good one.” Not that I would wish that on anyone, but seeing the bad just offers more fertile learning in how to deal with this type of person.

I had a manager at one point in my life that was so bad in that if I just handled everything diametrically opposite from her approach, I would be OK.

The teacher becomes the pupil

Life is always about a reference point, and in managing people, we want to make sure that we provide a model of what excellence is about.

Excellence is about connecting, mentoring, and making a difference in people’s lives. It is not about being a boss or a “Big Shot!”

Sometimes with our charges, the teacher becomes the pupil. I have, throughout my managing life, learned so much from the people who I have managed. They have enlightened me and “moved me forward” in my thinking.

We should never get tied into the concept that being boss means being smarter than the people you work for. As a matter of fact, you should always try to hire people smarter than you. So many of the people who I have managed over the years fit into this mold.

“You made me a better manager”

So in the end, my hat is off to the alumni of my manager experience: Maggie, Jill, Jamie, Karen, Krystal, Mark, Joe, Crystal, and others that have worked with me over the years

My word to you is a big thank you. You made me a better manager in my interactions with each of you.

And by the way, I would love to work with each of you again — even as your direct report.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!