How to be a good manager

This article is recommended for both employers and job seekers

Christian Madsen

Written by Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

How I learned to be stronger

During my formative years in my twenties, the culmination of my Master of Science degree journey led me to a significant academic endeavor: crafting a thesis. Deliberating over numerous potential subjects, I found myself inexorably drawn to the theme of "How to Gain Power." Little did I know that this choice would become an enduring cornerstone, shaping my perspective throughout my extensive tenure in the realm of recruitment.

Over the years, the concept of power has woven itself intricately into the fabric of my thoughts. Its definition, seemingly straightforward, reveals layers of complexity upon closer examination. Power, at its core, manifests as the ability to coax others into actions they might not have otherwise taken. Sometimes, it's as modest as a simple request, such as asking someone to momentarily hold my pen.

In these seemingly inconspicuous moments, a subtle transformation takes place. A person, who, in the absence of my prompt, would not have been clutching my pen, is now performing an action owing to my influence. The very act of soliciting their assistance has conferred upon me a measure of power over their behavior, however minor it may seem.

Yet, amidst this contemplation lies an ever-persistent question: how do we cultivate and wield such influence over others? The pursuit of power is not a binary state - possessing it or not possessing it. Rather, it finds its roots in the intricate web of dependency that intertwines individuals. It's not merely about amassing authority; it's about understanding the dynamics of reliance and exploiting them judiciously.

Years of observation and interaction in the realm of recruitment have illuminated the nuances of power dynamics. Through countless interviews, negotiations, and professional interactions, I've come to recognise that power is not a fixed entity, but a fluid force shaped by circumstances, information, and interpersonal relationships.

In essence, my journey through the world of recruitment has proven that power is a multifaceted gem, each facet reflecting a different facet of human nature and connection. As I reflect on my evolution from that eager graduate embarking on a thesis to the seasoned professional navigating the intricate dance of recruitment, I am reminded that power, as I have come to understand it, is inextricably intertwined with the intricate tapestry of human interaction and reliance.

How I learned to be stronger

Case study - the relationship between employer & employee

During my time in recruitment, I've had the opportunity to observe and analyse the intricate dynamics between employers and employees. One of the key aspects to consider is the power balance within this relationship.

On one side, we have the employer who provides the financial lifeline to the employee through their salary. This economic dependence inherently grants the employer a certain level of power. This influence becomes evident when directives or tasks are handed down from higher-ups. The employee, aware of the importance of their income, tends to comply with these requests, understanding that failing to do so might result in unfavorable repercussions.

However, it's a two-way street. The moment an employee decides to tender their resignation, the situation shifts. The employer is suddenly confronted with the potential costs associated with finding and training a replacement. This reality prompts the manager to tread carefully, aiming to maintain a harmonious relationship with the departing employee. Should the employee make reasonable requests or express concerns, the manager is more inclined to consider and accommodate them, recognising the value of keeping the employee content.

In essence, both parties are inextricably intertwined in a web of mutual dependency. It's this delicate balance of needs and obligations that gives rise to the employer-employee relationship. Over time, I've come to appreciate the complex interplay of power, economics, and human connections that shape this ever-evolving dynamic.

How to become a strong manager | Case study - the relationship between employer & employee

The stronger the dependency, the stronger the relationship

In the business world, it's evident that a unique dance of co-dependency plays out between employers and employees. It's intriguing to witness how both sides willingly entertain each other's requests, up to a certain point. The depth of this interdependence shapes the boundaries within which concessions are made, ultimately affecting the course of their relationship. This phenomenon manifests in various shades, be it through financial ties, information sharing, legal bonds, or the dynamics of authority.

As time rolls on, I've come to recognise that the employer holds the power to lessen their reliance on an employee. This slow detachment from dependence empowers the employer, enabling them to swiftly replace a role and subsequently dampening their inclination to meet the employee's demands.

On the flip side, employees too possess the ability to untangle themselves from the grip of employer dependency. One potent approach is through continual upskilling, a journey of personal and professional growth that broadens their horizons. This newfound skill arsenal not only enriches their value but also grants them the freedom to explore alternative avenues of income.

The intricate web of co-dependency thus weaves a complex tapestry in the realm of recruitment. Having witnessed this intricate play between employer and employee over the years, I can't help but marvel at the strategic moves and choices that sculpt the dynamics of this ever-evolving relationship.

How to become a strong manager | The stronger the dependency, the stronger the relationship

Perceived dependency is what matters

I've come to observe a fascinating dynamic that often plays out between employers and their employees. It's akin to a classic poker game, where the stakes are high, and each player carefully masks their true intentions.

In this intricate dance, the employer may overtly project an air of detachment from their employees, creating an illusion that they aren't as reliant on them as the reality might suggest. It's a delicate balance, a strategic move aimed at maintaining a semblance of power and control.

I've seen instances where employers employ a certain tactic: they communicate to their employees that deviating from their demands will inevitably lead to undesirable consequences. And although the truth might be far from it, the employee's perspective is often skewed. They tend to perceive themselves as more dependent on their employer than the employer is on them. This perception, in turn, places the employer in a seemingly advantageous position.

It's a psychological game, a manipulation of perceptions, where the employer holds a poker face that belies their true level of dependence on their workforce. This subtle power play often compels employees to acquiesce, to conform to their employer's wishes in an effort to safeguard their perceived position of vulnerability.

In the world of recruitment, this dynamic underscores the delicate interplay between parties, a dance of power and perception that shapes the decisions and actions of both employers and employees. And as someone who has been navigating this intricate landscape for years, I've come to recognise the subtle nuances that define this classic poker game between employer and employee.

How to become a strong manager | Perceived dependency is what matters

Changing dependencies

Over time, I've come to deeply understand the significance of mapping out dependencies as the foundational step towards mitigating them. Once we have a clear grasp of these dependencies, we're empowered to proactively diminish their impact over time.

In my extensive experience, I've found that to be an effective manager, it's imperative to establish a position of influence. After all, how else can we motivate someone to undertake tasks they might have otherwise resisted? This dynamic of power is an essential tool in a manager's toolkit.

I've always maintained that a manager's true efficacy is demonstrated by their ability to catalyse behavioral shifts within their team. It's my firm belief that if a manager struggles to instigate change among their staff, they're falling short of embodying genuine managerial prowess.

I recall reading an enlightening piece within the realms of Leadership and Management in Engineering, which underscored the universal indispensability of power. Even the most trivial aspects of an organisation or project necessitate an element of power to function effectively. It's akin to a prerequisite for achieving success in any endeavor.

In conclusion, I've come to appreciate that power isn't just an abstract concept; it tangibly manifests itself within the dynamics of situations and relationships. Absence of relationships implies a void in situations and consequently, the absence of power needed for execution. It's within this context that the conventional notions of weak and strong managers begin to blur, giving way to a more nuanced understanding of leadership dynamics.

How to become a strong manager | Changing dependencies

Christian Madsen

What are your thoughts?

I'd love to have a conversation with you about this topic - please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or opinions 🙂

Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

  • Lorie Merino says:

    Interesting article – how do you strike a balance between wielding influence to drive positive change within a team and avoiding the perception of manipulation/coercion among employees?

    • Christian Madsen says:

      Hi Lorie, thanks for your comment – I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

      That’s a great question. Balancing influence to drive positive change within a team while avoiding the perception of manipulation or coercion requires a thoughtful and authentic approach. Here’s what I recommend doing:

      1. Be transparent in your communication
      Clearly communicate your intentions, goals, and the reasoning behind your proposed changes. Transparency builds trust and helps employees understand the purpose behind your actions.

      2. Be inclusive in the decision-making process
      Involve team members in the decision-making process whenever possible. Seek input, listen to their ideas, and incorporate their feedback. This fosters a sense of ownership and reduces the perception of top-down manipulation.

      3. Empower your team
      Empower team members by giving them autonomy and responsibility. When individuals feel trusted and capable, they are more likely to embrace change willingly rather than feeling coerced.

      4. Lead by example
      Demonstrate the behaviour and values you expect from your team. If you consistently model positive and ethical conduct, your influence is more likely to be seen as genuine and not manipulative.

      5. Acknowledge concerns
      Acknowledge and address concerns or resistance openly. Actively listen to your team members’ feedback and concerns, and adjust your approach accordingly. This shows that you value their perspectives and are open to collaboration.

      6. Highlight mutual benefits
      Emphasise how the proposed changes will benefit both the team and individuals. When people see the positive impact on their own work or well-being, they are more likely to embrace the change willingly.

      7. Build relationships
      Develop strong relationships with your team members based on trust and mutual respect. A foundation of positive relationships makes it more likely that your influence will be perceived positively.

      8. Engage in continuous learning
      Be open to learning and adapting. If something isn’t working or is causing negative perceptions, be willing to reassess and modify your approach. Continuous improvement demonstrates humility and a commitment to positive outcomes.

      9. Align with organisational values
      Ensure that your initiatives align with the organisation’s values and goals. This alignment reinforces the legitimacy of your influence and reduces the likelihood of being perceived as manipulating for personal gain.

      10. Promote a positive culture
      Foster a positive and inclusive organisational culture where individuals feel valued and supported. In such an environment, your influence is more likely to be viewed as a force for positive change rather than manipulation.

      Ultimately, the key is to be authentic, ethical, and genuinely committed to the well-being of your team and the organisation. Building trust and fostering a positive team culture will go a long way in ensuring your influence is seen in a positive light.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}