Must Help People? Be a Loving Manager
January 5, 2015

Must Help People? Be a Loving Manager

by Brian de Haaff

I married into a family of doctors. They tell me that they love what they do because they get to solve tough problems and make a big difference in people’s lives. Every time I hear them talk about helping others, there is joy in their voice. And for a few years, that made me sad.

I was sad because I had convinced myself that the only real way to help people was to be a doctor or work as a care professional. And I could never be a doctor because other people’s blood makes me queasy.

I had mistakenly identified their work as helpful and my work as building tech companies that assisted other companies to make money. Blah. And then I had a revelation that stays with me to this day: managers help real people every day.

A great manager understands what makes each person special on their team. They turn potential into performance and personal growth with every person they lead.

Being a manager is about leading from the front. Encourage high effort from your team and offer authentic support when they need it.

The Harvard Business Review studied more than 80,000 managers and found that great managers don’t try to change a person’s style. They discover what makes them tick and push them to greatness.

As the CEO, I’ve often thought about what it takes to recruit great leaders at Aha! (product roadmap software) as we continue to grow. Have you ever thought about what separates the average managers from the great managers? Great managers do a few things exceptionally well:

Set a vision
The biggest mistake managers make is hiring new people without a clear roadmap. If your new hire has no clue how their role fulfills your team’s greater vision — or what that vision is — they have no chance to create value for the organization and themselves. Management starts with a clear vision.

Once you have found the best people to help fulfill your team’s vision, your next job is to challenge them. This does not involve throwing them in the deep end on day one. Nor does it mean tossing them work that you just do not want to do. As a manager, your job is to know each team member’s core strengths and safely push them beyond their comfort zone.

We are all capable of being greater than we think we can be. As a manager, your job is to help everyone on your team be phenomenal. A little empathy and HR-appropriate love go a long way here. No matter how successful you are, you were once stretching too.

They say you do not forget the name of your worst manager— or your best. With all the time that we spend at work, managers must respect the impact they have on people’s lives. The good news is that, if managers take their responsibility seriously, they can have an inspiring and lasting effect.

When you discover what is unique about people you work with, it makes both of you better. If you really want to help people — be a great manager whatever industry you are in.

How did your best manager care for you?

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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