Who Needs Managers?

12th Apr 2013

Ever wondered what the actual role of a manager is?

Last week, I was facilitating a leadership workshop with a group of mid-level managers. During the course of our discussions, one participant commented that they’d recently come across a team in their organisation that seemed to have achieved some sort of performance nirvana: they were busting their KPI’s, were constantly coming up with new and improved ways of doing things, and morale was sky-high. And they didn’t have a manager.

At that point, I asked her to repeat what she’d just said: “they didn’t have a manager”. Which of course begged the question: “so what’s the role of the manager then?”. You could have heard a pin drop.

Eventually one person ventured that maybe the manager’s role is to get out of the way?

I think she’s onto something.

I’d also suggest that it’s slightly more than that: to help the team get set up for success, so they can achieve what they need to achieve time and time again. Then get out of the way and allow the magic to happen.

Like a gardener who plants the seed, waters and weeds, and then lets nature take its course. Or the role of the beer cans and plank in this video of metronomes synchronising. Or this one that demonstrates the idea perfectly.

Are you in the way more than you need to be? What role could you be playing?


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