Early on in Michael Lewis’ latest book, Flash Boys, I came upon a passage that struck me:
“The best way to manage people, he thought, was to convince them that you were good for their careers. He further believed that the only way to get people to believe that you were good for their careers was actually to be good for their careers.” (Flash Boys, p26-27)
I love this philosophy for its simplicity, altruism, and effectiveness, and when I read it I found myself nodding excitedly. Think of the best managers you’ve ever had: Did they stand in your way, or help you to achieve great things? Were they threatened by your expertise, or did they nourish and encourage it even as it exceeded their own? Did they keep you in the dark and guard information, or did they willingly share everything they could to empower you with context and knowledge? Did they feed your growth or stifle it? Were they more interested in their own career growth than in yours?
I’d like to think this philosophy is so self-evident and powerfully effective to be unassailable (so much so that even self-interested managers would at least recognize the value in adopting it), but I have enough experience to know that unfortunately this isn’t the case.
If you’re a manager, then ask yourself: are you helping the members of your team achieve career success?