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Why Top Performers Are Often Not The Most Effective Managers

Why Top Performers Are Often Not The Most Effective Managers

The first question to ask is, how does a top performer achieve that recognition?

Often, top performers work alone: thus, the recognition as a top performer. Many things are in their sole control. Not so, when they become a manager. Managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a team, a workgroup, or another organizational unit. Work becomes less exciting, as top performers are no longer called upon to save the day. Managers are also responsible for the allocation of resources. Top performers are individuals who may have trouble shifting from a me mindset to a we mindset.

How many of the top performer characteristics do you see in the bad manager column?

10 Characteristics of Good and Bad Managers

Good Manager Characteristics Bad Manager Characteristics
Surround themselves with the smartest people that they can hire. Being a know it all.
Empowers employees. Spy on employees.
Recognizes the need to adapt to changing conditions Cling to the status quo.
Supports and encourages divergent points of view and employee backgrounds to create a flexible, adaptable and competitive workforce. Pits individuals and teams against each other.
Delegates but does not abdicate responsibility for the work. Refuses to delegate any authority, thereby stunting the growth of employees.
Stands by their team in public. Criticizes in private. Throws employees under the bus when someone, especially a more powerful person, complains.
Communicates expectations in clear, understandable language with specific actionable outcomes and timelines. Does not communicate.
Has the moral courage to admit to mistakes. Never apologizes or admits to mistakes.
Seeks to understand the reasoning behind the disagreement, encourages civil discourse of opposing viewpoints. Fires or otherwise marginalizes employees who disagree with them.
Respectfully manages up. Does not challenge their managers when presented with instructions that will undermine morale or lead the organization away from its mission, vision, and values.

What to Do When You Have a Bad Manager

The human thing to do is to grumble to yourself, your teammates, and to your family. Realistically, the grumbling will get you nowhere. Alternatively, you might choose to leave your job or the company. Or, you might use human resources or an open-door policy to air your concerns. There are consequences to each choice. Can you wait things out and keep doing a good job ? Even if you decide to wait things out, look at your options. A bad boss can be a wake-up call to a new career, work life balance, or even retirement.

How Do You Manage up?

In its simplest form, managing up is supporting your boss by lightening their load. While some authors recommend going above and beyond, be cautious. Going above and beyond can be seen as a threat by an insecure manager. When you effectively manage up you create an atmosphere of trust between you and your manager. The skills that you will need include: communication, the ability to disagree respectfully, problem-solving skills, and the ability to anticipate people’s needs. Go to your manager with a solution to the problem, not just a complaint about the situation.

Managers are people, just like you. If someone who is accustomed to working alone is suddenly “rewarded” with a team and they don’t know how to manage that team, what you think is going to happen? That top performer is going to most likely fall back on the skills that made them a top performer. Things like refusing to delegate, keeping information to themselves because, after all knowledge is power. If you can keep your cool and teach them by managing upward, you just might find that that bad boss is now a keeper.

By Barbachano Staff

If you are currently searching for a new executive position that would be a better fit, be sure to visit our job portal.

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

President and CEO of Barbachano International (BIP),

The Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America, and the USA, offering high-impact executive search, executive coaching, and outplacement.

At Barbachano International, we understand the importance of recruiting and the return on investment that top talent can deliver for you. With 27 years in the industry, we know firsthand how imperative it is for an organization to have the right people to achieve its business objectives. We help you avoid painful hiring mistakes and reduce turnover by identifying top performers for your team that result in long-term success.


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