The Value in a Manager’s Role

“What do you mean, bring value?” Joan asked. “Sounds easy to say, but I don’t know what you mean. How does a manager bring value to the problem solving and decision making in the team?”

“Do you bring value by telling people what to do?” I asked.

Joan sat back, looking for the odd angle in the question. “No,” she replied.

“You and I are sitting here talking,” I nodded. “And in our conversation, am I directing you, telling you how to be a manager?”

Again, the answer was “No.”

“And would you say that our conversations are valuable, valuable to you, in your role, as a manager?”

Joan followed the nod. “Yes,” she said slowly.

“I am not telling you what to do, yet, am I bringing value to the conversation?” I could see Joan making a leap in her mind to follow. “How am I doing that? If I am not telling you what to do, what kinds of sentences am I using?”

“Questions,” she responded. “You are not telling me what to do. You are asking questions and listening. And your questions are bringing value to the decisions I have to make and the problems I have to solve.”

2 thoughts on “The Value in a Manager’s Role

  1. michael cardus

    Powerful post here.
    It is a tough balance to figure out the questions to ask..and how to add value by not telling people what to do. The minute the relationship becomes one of teller and tellee the mutual and felt trust gap can be widened.

    1. Chet Sutphen

      Facilitating subordinates to get into the problem solving mode is always key. Collaboration and buy-in from subordinates result in positive Course of Action development, and sometimes, re-define the problem/opportunity at hand. Most managers are unwilling to to take the time to go thru this process and spend double the amount of time wondering why “soultion” didn’t work and how to now fix it.

      Chet Sutphen


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