An old friend of mine liked to stir up a conversation by presenting two options, diametrically opposed to each other, requiring you to choose one. Shortly into pondering she would interject with “and death is not an option.” No getting out of this one – make a tough choice. This game of examining the extreme either end of the spectrum brings greater clarity to personal values.
I was recently asked a question that reminded me of this game:
“If you were only able to be fit into one of the two categories 1)Micro-manager 2)Hands-off manager … which would you choose?”
My initial gut-reaction was No.2 Hands-off Manager.
I fear being labeled a Micro-manager. Micro-managers are characterized by managing every minor detail of a subordinates activities. The stereotypical micro-manager is hovering over the shoulder of an employee ensuring that the work is completed correctly. Failure is not an option for the micro-manager. This leader is driven by a tremendous sense of personal responsibility for the work of others. Fearing that a subordinates poor performance will reflect poorly on their leadership they need to control the process in order to manage their anxiety. My way or the highway.
But before choosing “Hands-off manager” as the better alternative, let’s examine that end of the spectrum. The hands-off manager shows little interest in the work of the subordinate. Rather than hovering over a shoulder, they are never to be seen. A sense of personal responsibility for the performance of others is completely avoided. Failure is tolerated as long as they don’t have their hands on it – what better way to shirk any responsibility than to ensure your hands aren’t on anything. The hands-off manager is unwilling to accept any accountability. Fearing that a subordinates poor performance will reflect poorly on their leadership they need to avoid the process in order to manage their anxiety. Don’t tell me what highway you are on.
The micro-manager smothers creativity while the hands-off manager creates an accountability vacuum. The micro-manager stresses out the team while the hands-off manager confuses them. The micro-manager won’t tolerate a mistake while the hands-off manager won’t help to find a solution.
Choose your poison. If you were only able to manage from one category which would it be?