Are Your Skills Holding Your Team Down?

Image source: Md. Zabir Hasan


Some conversations leave lasting impressions and this one did.

He is a rising star in one of the largest companies in the world. His work has caught the attention of those in the highest levels of the company. He’s technically skilled and socially gifted. He’s an achiever with a humble demeanor. He asked me:

“Would you rather have a manger who understood your job or one who didn’t?”

I knew where he was going with the question and I knew the answer he expected. He wanted me to agree with his unspoken assumption that a manager who knew how to do a subordinate’s job would be better than one who didn’t.

I replied, “A manager’s technical knowledge is not the main issue, their ability to bring out the best in others is.”

Is it an advantage for managers to know how to perform the jobs of their direct reports? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

Telling people the best way to do their job may not be the best way. An environment that leverages other’s skill-sets is more important than a manager’s technical ability.

Managers who help others learn new skills motivate peak performers. Meddling managers, however, don’t lift they de-motivate.

Meddling managers don’t bring out the best in others they create cookie cutter employees who reflect the boss. The result, their organizations won’t rise above their technical ability.

My rising star feels the tension everyone feels when they work their way up the organizational chart – the tension between leveraging their technical knowledge and letting go so that others can achieve.

Have you had a manager who knew how to do your job? Did they meddle or let go?

How can a technically skilled manager leverage their knowledge without de-motivating others?