What makes a good manager (leader) – Part 1?

NOTE:  This is Part 1 of many posts

There is so much literature around the topic of management.  And the thought leadership around how to be a manager spans a wide array of opinions & strategies.

Before I list what I think the optimal alchemy is for leadership, I want to state at the outset that in my opinion, most people are not leaders.

Despite the various literature out there that gives off the impression that anyone can become a manager/leader, I tend to fall on the side of the best leaders are a result of a combination of nature & nurture, but critically:  there is a “nature” element in that not everyone can just “try hard” & then end up a good leader, there has to be some good raw materials to work with at the outset.

Therefore, pursuant to the above, I’m confident that to be an effective leader, you need to…

  • be born with a set of traits in your DNA that give you the genetic predisposition to have the opportunity to mature into being a leader ;
  • have the opportunity to make mistakes in a working environment, so that over time, you can hone your natural abilities & get both mental clarity & inner confidence around the executable process it takes to be a leader ;
  • #2 above evolves from studying other leaders who you respect & trying out strategies in your own environment, then seeing them either execute to a positive or negative result & then personally iterating based on those results – that’s what over time gives you the aforementioned “clarity” & “inner confidence”

Let me start by listing 3 leaders who I think are excellent CEO’s & who I have personally studied.  They are:  Bob Iger (Disney) ; Jeff Bezos (Amazon) ; Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn).

And I’ll give you summary bullets as to what I think each of them does particularly well…

  • Iger combines a commanding sense of inner strength, but not to the point where it’s off-putting, where it comes off as: to be in his presence would be to feel empowered. When he speaks, you not only feel that the ship is in good, strong hands – but that he knows how to hire other good managers below him.  And then to let these managers do their job, while still making sure those managers understand the overall direction & strategic vision of the mothership (Disney). Iger would probably do well as a CEO across many different industries, not just necessarily the media sector in which he currently operates. If you had to point to one man who is the definition of a “CEO,” Iger would be “it.
  • Bezos is the most visionary of the 3 I am going to cover here.  He is also the only one who founded a company from the beginning & built it into what is now one of the biggest companies in the world.  Bezos combines a strong sense of the future, with the internal fortitude to guide his vision there, regardless of naysayers who want more immediate (read: quarterly) results.  In the end, this combination of foresight & the internal temerity to stick to his guns and guide the company there, is what not only allows Bezos to maximize shareholder value, but also makes Bezos one of the greatest visionaries of our time.
  • Weiner is probably the most “naturally” talented leader of the 3 mentioned here. He has such an effortless way of handling himself in interviews & in conversation that there’s a nobility to him that shines through.  Whether he’s talking to Oprah or Ari Emanuel, he maintains an uplifting, inspiring demeanor that almost makes one want to do anything & everything to make sure that “wherever that man is going, I’m following him there.”  Whereas Iger has a gravitas that is more overt, Weiner’s gravitas is so organic across delivery, clarity of purpose, & vision that he makes it look as easy as breathing.

I have learned, continue to learn, & incorporate elements of each of these mens’ leadership styles through a combination of private study of them & trial and error in the workplace to see what personally works for me.

I intend this to be a series of posts, so I am going to stop here for now – but To Be Continued – as I outline my thoughts on management & leadership.



What makes a good manager (leader) – Part 1?

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