game, game. repeat.

Junior vs Senior Managers

Thu 05 May 2022 #leadership

Warning: preference-style opinions ahead, e.g. cherry pie is better than apple pie. That said, I’ve used these opinions in anger, so they may be of interest to mangers trying to get ahead with a leader that thinks like I do.

Junior: my first loyalty is to the team I lead, my downwards team

Senior: my first loyalty is to the team my boss leads, my upwards team

Junior: my span of control is how many people must do what I say

Senior: my span of control is how many people I know the name of their kids and what’s going on in their lives

Junior: to make a good decision I must build a consensus

Senior: to make a good decision I must mine for conflict and then use my judgement to make the best decision I can, even if it’s not popular

Junior: my management position is a reward for my talent and hard work

Senior: my management position is a responsibility to help us achieve results to everyone’s benefit

Junior: I avoid criticizing my staff, so they like me and I can use that to influence them

Senior: I hold my staff accountable so they are clear on what’s expected and can perform their best

Junior: I’m not ready to make a decision—I need more information because I don’t want to make a mistake

Senior: I will make a decision now so my team has clarity and can move forward in concert…if I’m wrong, that’s ok, we’ll course correct

Junior: conflict is bad and I do my best to cutoff or redirect discussions where my staff are getting riled up

Senior: conflict is essential to making good decisions, I must mine for conflict to make sure we’ve gotten all the available ideas and concerns out on the table

Junior: I was right, but now I think we should go in a different direction

Senior: I was wrong; I know my choice created a lot of work for you, now you have to throw it away, and I know how much that sucks…that’s on me and I’m sorry

Junior: I take control of as much as I can so I can make sure everything is done correctly

Senior: I delegate as much control as I can, so my staff feel empowered; I keep as much of the risk as I can, so my staff feel safe

Junior: yes I’ll do it, but I’m already working 80 hours a week and I’m burning out

Senior: yes I’ll do it, but I’m handing back item number 7 on my backlog to make room, ok?

Junior: our boss’s boss said we have to do X, so let’s do it

Senior: I believe we should do X for these reasons, what do you think, ok let’s do it

Junior: hi boss, I have a problem, can you help me?

Senior: hi boss, I just solved a problem you had, you’re welcome, also I have a problem, can you help me?

Junior: sales keeps making impossible promises to our customers, engineering is left holding the bag, and it sucks

Senior: sales and engineering are misaligned around what we’re telling customers, let’s fix that, I’ll bring it up at my team meeting

Junior: I told you that wouldn’t work and you’d regret making X decision

Senior: WE decided X but we’re seeing Y evidence that it’s not working the way we hoped, I think we should revisit OUR decision

Junior: individual performance is private and should only be discussed in the chain of command

Senior: individual performance is not private, it impacts the entire company, and the most effective way to improve it is working together as a team

Junior: I argued for X and that’s what I think is the best thing to do, but the boss decided Y, so we’re doing Y

Senior: I argued for X at first, but after hearing A, B, C arguments I became convinced that Y is what we should do, and that’s what we decided, let’s go!

Junior: X isn’t being done right, I’ll just do it myself

Senior: X isn’t being done right, I need to hold the person responsibly accountable and support them improving so they can do it right next time

Junior: Bob isn’t making the right decision, I need to tell him what to do and how to do it

Senior: Bob isn’t making the right decision and any time I must exercise my authority to fix a one-off problem, something might be wrong on my end…could it be a context problem? If I gave Bob more info A, B, C would he make the right decision?

Junior: my job is to lead my team so we can achieve our goals

Senior: my job is to teach my team how to lead, so they don’t need me to achieve our goals

Junior: meeting attendance is an important signal about which topics and which people are important

Senior: meetings should only be attended by those who add significant value to the debate and who could not add more value investing that time somewhere else

Junior: pressure is bad and should be minimized

Senior: pressure is good, ‘pressure is a privilege’, but it needs to be channelled productively or I risk unhealthy behavior and bad decisions

Junior: risk should be minimized or eliminated, if possible

Senior: risk should be thoughtfully managed, but it should not be eliminated because it isn’t worth the price

Junior: people who see therapists or work with coaches or otherwise seek help from mental health professionals are flawed

Senior: the highest performing professionals invest in themselves by seeking help when it will give them an advantage, including from therapists, coaches, mental health professionals, trainers, lawyers, doctors, mentors, coworkers, and others

Junior: I start with making sure everyone on my team gets what they want individually and then work towards our collective goals

Senior: I start with making sure we’ll achieve our collective goals and then I make sure each of my team individually (and all of our stakeholder groups) shares in our success

Further Reading

If you click on some of those you’ll notice I’m a Patrick Lencioni fan. BTW I’m not paid for these links or for saying so…this is an old school, unsponsored, unpaid, shill-free, genuine opinion. :)