The Biggest Mistake Managers Make

What is it about the title ‘manager’ which brings out the worst in us?

From being one of the team, we now feel responsible. With this greater responsibility comes a new approach.

To achieve goals I must now tell others what to do. If they don’t do it right, I must tell them again. And again. If they don’t follow my instructions – performance management follows.

Teams become demotivated. Morale sags. Creativity dies. We double our efforts – trying to be clearer in communication, improve personal time management and manage tasks more effectively.

It’s only natural we become inflated with our importance to the company. Without me this project would fail. I have to work 60 hours to make sure this gets completed because no one else will… we justify our behaviour. And we move into a tell style of management.

But who can blame these managers? These business owners? These boards? Centuries of management has resulted in a top down approach. Kings, barons, lords, sheriffs, police, army, teachers and every single corporation until recent histry have operated along the same lines.

I’m okay, you’re not. I have the answers, you don’t. I know what needs doing, you don’t. I must tell you, educate you, inform you. You must follow my instructions. To the letter.

The result is frustration, lack of ownership, low morale, disengagement.

What you can do about it

A change of philosophy is required – one which challenges the “I’m okay, you’re not” approach to management resulting in “I must tell you what to do”.

Abraham Maslow and his contemporary Carl Rogers turned the world of psychology upside down in the 1950s. Their approach is still making huge inroads into the worlds of psychology, management, organisational development, coaching, counselling, health care and more.

Their approach, alongside other approaches such as Transactional Analysis (Eric Berne) and many others, change our deeply ingrained hereditary instinct tell style into one which releases potential and generates outstanding results.

The best organisations in the world are exciting to work for. They exist to solve real problems, with a purpose which engages the human spirit. Their managers are trained/developed to release the potential which exists in every single human being.

So Manager – what’s your style?

Think about what you have on your plate right now and write down the answers to the following questions;

  1.  What’s the biggest problem I’m facing right now?
  2. How will I address it?

Think through the answers to the above questions before reading on.

Now look at your answer to number 2… if your answer was;

  • a) I need to fix this big issue. I need to do x, y and z, or get my team/staff to do x and y. Chances are you feel you are the solution, and are most likely in the tell camp. The one in which you and you alone have to come up with the answers. Telling others what to do.


  • b) I will gather my team, explain the problem, and together we work out a solution.

    If b) was more akin to your answer well done – for this is the path to greater management effectiveness.


The biggest mistake managers make is thinking they are the engine of the organisation. In reality, thinking or behaving in this way becomes self fulfilling prophecy. The organisation is unable to grow and the best talent leave to find somewhere they can grow.

Rather, develop your management skills to communicate clearly, empower others, and effectively delegate.

If you want to change your management style (or those of your managers), and would like help – get in touch. We work with owner managers and those in senior positions to help transform their leadership/management styles in order to grow their teams, and their business.

To find out more see Leadership and management development or executive coaching.

(C) Welcome Insight 2015
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