• Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean

From the Director’s Chair: Are you a good Manager?

Are you a good Manager? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being Excellent, and 10 being Poor, how would you rate yourself? My guess would be the distribution curve for the responses would be biased to the Excellent to Good side. I would also guess that no one would give a rating of 8, 9, or 10. In a self-evaluation, the tendency is to rate ourselves on the Positive or Good side. This is just one aspect of human nature.


The next question would be, “On what basis did you give the rating that you gave?”

Are you a good manager because you consistently meet your numbers? This is a good metric, as it is usually one of the points discussed in a performance review.

Are you a good manager because you are a “People Centric Manager” or you have a “Servant Leadership” management style? These two labels come under the heading of Employee Engagement. Do you have a totally engaged workforce that is involved in problem solving and generates improving ideas? This would be another good thing as a totally engaged workforce is one of the goals of Lean. A totally engaged workforce usually is very productive and efficient. A totally engaged workforce produces a quality product or delivers quality service.

Are you a good manager because you are a good leader? There are many definitions of leadership and many attributes of a good Leader. At the mid-Atlantic Lean Conference in Baltimore, MD, held in November of 2017, one of the keynote speakers, CDR Arthur Gibb, III, PhD: Chair, Dept. of Leader Development and Research, U.S. Naval Academy, engaged the audience by asking them to draw their definition of a good leader.

Since we did not have a lot of time, and most of us are not good drawers, or artists, it was somewhat embarrassing to show our sketches to the other people at the table. But, it sure was fun. We had a lot of laughs with the exercise. My preferred definition of a good Leader is someone that can take people to a higher level of performance, a level that they never would have achieved on their own. Personally, this was true of the managers that I had at General Electric, where I spent the first twenty years of my career.

At the risk of embarrassing myself, below is my sketch from the Leadership exercise.


But there are many more ways to describe a good manager.

From the Forbes article of JAN 26, 2016 @ 09:00 AM 59,421 The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets

“The Seven Qualities That Make Great Managers So Effective” are:

1. They Love the Company Culture 2. They're Positively Contagious 3. They Can Sustain Focus 4. They Lead With Their Head and Heart 5. They're Honest 6. They Take Accountability 7. They're Effective at Making Decisions

“If supervisors can’t make decisions for their team, how can they expect to guide them towards the finish line for projects or goals? The truth is, they can’t. That’s why the best managers have the ability to make decisions with a wealth of information -- in a short amount of time -- to get the best results from their team. The best managers are hard to come by, and with good reason: they have to be emotionally intelligent, honest and hold their team to the same performance and accountability standards that they hold themselves to.”

I would like to expand on #7 and say that the best, most effective managers have a small GAP. The gap is the time between knowing what to do and then doing it. The concept was introduced to me by a Professor at Duke University who was leading a workshop for the Management Team at Nypro. Regretfully, I do not remember the name of the Professor.

Having spent twenty years at General Electric, with fifteen of those years while Jack Welch was Vice President of the Chemical and Metallurgical Division or CEO, I would say that Jack had a zero gap. Once the management team developed a plan, Jack looked for immediate results. Jack went on to lead General Electric to eighty consecutive quarters of record Sales and record Profits. I personally, have a larger Gap, as I was strategic on when and where to approach my managers with news or problems. I always considered what kind of mood my boss was in, or what other problems or issues was he dealing with, etc. Others may be more spontaneous and approach their manager with news or problems as soon as they occur, such as barging into a meeting, or barging into the manager’s office when he or she was on the phone.

Does a short or small gap make for a better manager? What is your gap? Would this have any influence on your response to the question, “Are you a good manager?”

Note: Joe purposely writes controversial articles and expresses strong opinions to stimulate discussion. Joe welcomes feedback, comments, and opposing views to his articles.