There are countless books and articles dedicated to listing and exploring the qualities possessed by outstanding managers. However, I believe there is far too little attention paid to the one quality that creates an important degree of comfort we personally develop for working for and with a managerial superior. I am referring to the quality of AUTHENTICITY, or expressed in simpler terms, our superior’s willingness to be precisely who she or he is.
Over the years I have observed, worked for and worked with managers representing an extraordinary ranges of styles. A few of these managers I am happy to forget. But in most cases I was able to reach a comfortable accommodation with most of them once I was able to figure out what made them tick and what that would require of me. The key ingredient possessed by the best managers in my experience was always their PREDICTABILITY. That is, I could with a fair degree of reliability count on them to remain essentially the same person from day-to-day, situation to situation, event to event.
I can not overemphasize how important predictability is to we human beings when it comes to establishing workable personal relationships, interactions and social networks. Few things are as un-nerving as attempting to engage others whose behavior, responses and actions can vary significantly, even though the situations may vary little at all. Especially in a work setting where superior-subordinate relationships are common, a manager whose actions and reactions are difficult to anticipate in advance, becomes an intellectual and emotional challenge to all who must occasionally depend upon them.
Now none of us are totally predictable all of the time. We all have our off days and the capacity to surprise others occasionally. But individuals that I refer to as AUTHENTIC are those who are sufficiently “comfortable in their own skin” to remain there. They are individuals at ease with who they are, willing to be themselves whatever the situation. They are not play actors seeking to determine the required role they believe the situation demands, nor are they illusionists hoping to fool others into believing they are what they appear to be not who they actually are. They simply are who they are.
Often authentic individuals possess a high degree of magnetism. Others are drawn to them socially and as bosses at work. It is not necessarily that as bosses they are tough or easy-going, brilliant or simply smart, introverts or extraverts, nor is it the precise degree to which we actually like them as individuals on an emotional level. Rather it is quite often their authenticity. We can pretty much depend upon the character of their interactions with us and thus calibrate our behavior accordingly.
So managers, have the courage to be yourself. Trust yourself and your instincts. Listen to both your head and your heart, combine that wisdom, and follow their lead. Being authentic and consistently dependable in your behavior, actions and reactions will not necessarily make your popular with your subordinates, nor as I have found as a father, with your children. But others will respect and appreciate at least that your are predictably the person they have come to expect you to be.