Over my career I have had various types of managers. Those that see themselves as bosses. Others that see themselves as supporters. Still others as colleagues. It is amazing how much has been written about the impact of managers who behave terribly, how they can strip employees of their self-worth, courage, and even hope. Many people state that those managers can be the breaking point for an employee leaving a company. In my experience, this is common and a waste of talent. This is sad.
Yet, this article will tell the story of three of my past managers and how there were great for my career and me as a person. Each of the managers/leaders below helped me in concrete and meaningful ways. They might not have done that for you, but this is my story of what they did for me.
Let’s Start with Mishkin Berteig
When I first jumped into the agile world, it was with the support and guidance of Mishkin Berteig. He is the CEO and co-founder of Berteig (a full-service consulting organization dedicated to helping Canadian organizations become hyper-productive). I worked with Mishkin from 2008 to 2014.
The key attributes that made Mishkin Berteig a great manager for me:
- Always wiling to consult with me — no matter the type of work (consulting, training, marketing, etc.), Mishkin was willing to let me voice my opinion and then talk it through. He gave me space to be thoughtful and creative.
- Helped me to grow in ways that I wanted — throughout my time at Berteig, Mishkin provided opportunities for to learn, experiment, and accelerate my growth. I attended numerous training seminars, read dozens of books, and participated in many conferences.
- Trusted me to be a leader — over my 6 years at Berteig, I was empowered to lead various initiatives and clients projects. I was responsible for my first consuting only a year into joining Mishkin. Then over time I became the consulting lead and was responsible for other consultants and coaches.
Next, Let’s Continue with Jeff Anderson
After my time at Berteig, I joined the large consulting firm known as simply Deloitte. During this time, I had a wonderful manager named Jeff Anderson. He is now the President and founder of Agile by Design (a consulting firm helps organizations achieve business agility at scale through a thoughtful, design-driven approach to organizational change).
The key attributes that made Jeff Anderson a great manager for me:
- Gave me guidance and then let me play — as we tackled various types of consulting projects, Jeff was great at giving timely and practical advice. Once he felt that I absorbed it, he let me run the show. This gave me confidence, and if I struggled I knew that Jeff was only a call away.
- Brought out my full personality — if you know Jeff, then you know that he a wicked sense of humour and is crazy smart. Well he also likes to support his team in being the best version of themselves. He encouraged and empowerment me to be silly, ultra-positive, and just be myself.
- Protected me from badly behaving managers — when you are part of large consulting firm, there are plenty of great people and there are also some that behave quite poorly. No matter the risk to himself personally or professionally, Jeff would always have my back and take the heat. This constant support created a safe space for me to do my job well.
And, End with Suneel Ghei
After my stint at Deloitte, I moved on to ADP. Right away I was put into the shared services team with Suneel Ghei as my manager. At the time, Suneel was responsible for project management, DevOps, support, agile, and operations within GPT.
The key attributes that made Suneel Ghei a great manager for me:
- Helped me to remain calm and grounded when things got hard — sometimes I would find myself struggling with an initiative, and then I would speak with Suneel. He would help me see a greater perspective, relieve my stress, and we would come up with a plan of action.
- Protected me from the politics — in large corporations there can be plenty of politics, playing insider games, and back-stabbing. Luckily, Suneel was able to shield me (and many others) from that chaos.
Some Final Thoughts
Each manager that I had since I first started working when I was teenager until now has displayed wonderful qualities. Not all managers were great for me, but maybe there were great for others.
If we search for the perfect manager, we will be disappointed. However, if try to find the good in each manager we can easily find it. Of course, if your manager is behaving terribly don’t stick around and get abused. Instead find a new work home.
Who are the managers that were great for you? Sound off in the comments below.
Good luck on your job hunt, good luck on your work, and I hope that each of you continue to find greatness in yourselves as well as your managers.
Paul J. Heidema