Coach's Casebook

The Case of the Inauthentic Manager

The Case of the Inauthentic Manager

When Melissa was promoted, she had little experience of management.

She needed to know how to act as a manager but the business wasn’t able to fund any training and her Director had made an assumption that she was such a good technical expert and really friendly, then she would be great in the management role.

Unfortunately, Melissa was struggling.  She had read a management book from the library and then looked around to find out which managers in the company where thriving, so that she could model that behaviour.

She found Peter.

Peter was a strong and confident person with a slightly arrogant air about him, who ‘managed by objectives’ and shouting. He got results but he burned through staff very quickly.  it did, however,  look on paper as though Peter was successful and so Melissa began acting in a similar manner.  She was overly firm with the people who were previously her peers and she was very demanding on timescales and quality, far above what was needed and all carried out in a very brusque manner.

Far from what Melissa expected, productivity and quality reduced.  Melissa was also very depressed.  She didn’t like managing this way and was about to quit her new role and return to an uncomfortable position back amongst the workforce she had just been mis-managing.

Fortunately, her husband’s friend was a coach and he sat with Melissa to help her resolve her problem and make an informed decision.

By taking Melissa through a variety of perceptual positions, the coach helped Melissa to understand her own style of management and to accept that this was as valid approach as any other approach, providing it generated the results required. He also worked with her self communication style and her confidence to ensure that she could commit and follow through on her action plan of becoming the best ‘Melissa the Manager’ that she could be rather than model someone and being another ‘Peter’.

Peter’s style was not Melissa’s style and although it is not appropriate to comment on that separate case, we can see that Peter’s approach may not have been satisfactory in the longer term for Peter either.

Melissa identified how she would want to be managed herself and subsequently identified how her team would respond best.  She then got her team together and apologised for her behaviour, explaining she was trying to manage in a style that wasn’t her’s and how she believed the team would like to work together and be ‘lead’ rather than managed. It worked and although there was a delay while trust was rebuilt, productivity, quality and eventually morale improved.

This approach of introspection and assessment of behavioural ‘Cause and Effect’ led to Melissa leading her team with short and long term goals (created involving the team) as well as an inclusive style of management, where Melissa held the authority and accountability but worked with the team rather then having the team work for her.

Being your authentic self is perhaps the more important approach to any management and leadership role.  Why be a second rate ‘someone else’ rather than a first rate ‘you’.  Your team will respect you more for your honesty and integrity to your own values rather than an attempt to be someone you are not.

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