My Management Philosophy and Style

Passion is great, but its not the most important thing for finding great talent. When I look to build or add to a team, I look for drive, commitment and discipline as the most important attributes of prospective team members. Passion is nice to see, but I know passion comes and goes. Passion is transient and often jumps from one endeavor to another. The person who displays drive, commitment and discipline will continue to produce great work as passion ebbs and flows. Sure, it might take passion to build your chops and enhance your education and skill set and one could argue that you can’t be great if you are not passionate – I don’t discount that at all. I have seen and experienced that inevitably there will be a time when you are not feeling passionate about your work. That’s ok, because it will likely come back. But how do we do great work when we are not feeling it?

When I talk to candidates, I want to get a sense of their drive, commitment and discipline. I also want to get a feel for their personal culture and try and imagine if that is a good fit (from both sides). I do not believe in interview riddles, spirit animals or tests (except to gauge development skills) and I’ve been very successful in building quality teams over the years.

A happy team is an autonomous team. Autonomous teams are created by giving autonomy to individuals. I look for candidates that would thrive in autonomy but are also understanding that it does not compromise accountability. A good manager knows the difference between delegating and assigning work and the variance in autonomy between the two. When you delegate work, you are also giving responsibility and a great deal of autonomy. The team member to whom the work is delegated assumes ultimate responsibility for the success of the project. Along with this is the accountability to which a project succeeds or fails (for lack of a better word here).

Assigning work is a bit different. When you assign work as a manager, you are still ultimately accountable for the outcome. You are not giving as much autonomy and are more actively involved in the day-to-day workflow. If things go south, that’s your responsibility. When they go great, its to the assignee’s credit.

The biggest key to the difference between delegating and assigning is knowing that the first you do sparingly and choose wisely. The latter you do often, as it is a vehicle for growth.

As a manager, I strive to have a relaxed rapport with the team and extend that rapport to the broader team(s) and organization. I keep an open door policy and am available to any team member. I approach management of the team with a “how can I help you” enabling mindset. I also communicate regularly with the team and when its time for a performance review, there are no surprises.

Be nice.
Have a common goal.
Help where you can.
Stay connecting to the organization’s big picture.