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Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 10

King Managers, continued…

Some of us secretly call those managers who ‘pretend’ to know everything, and who do not bother to acknowledge they might have made a mistake, “King Managers.” Why a king? Because a king is the chief ruler, who has supreme authority. And if you think of it in chess terms, s/he is the most important player. That’s right. Those managers who cannot say, “I’m sorry, I made a bad call,” or, “I don’t know, let’s find out together,” often truly believe they are the ultimate power holders – the most important piece that holds a group together. It is this belief that convinces them it is wrong to show any signs of weaknesses. Sounds logical at first: If the most important player is the group’s ‘glue,’ and s/he is weak, what does that say about the rest of the group? They must be so weak that they would come apart overnight, right? NOOO!!

Over the years, I have occasionally coached this kind of manager. They are most concerned, it seems, with their group image, of not painting a picture of themselves as a failure as a leader. In fact, if one asks a few amplifying questions, one would quickly learn these managers actually have a very caring place in their heart for the quality of their work, and for the brand of their organization. It is exactly for that reason they try very hard to not show any signs of weakness – to protect what s/he believes that strong picture needs to be. (And many times, trust me, it takes a lot out of them physically to do just that…) Believe it or not, many of the King Managers I have known had a significant problem trying to stand tall at all times. It is actually very sad.

Needless to say, it is far from the truth that we’d expect managers to know everything. In fact, think of the best managers you ever worked with. What made them so ‘good’ in your perspective? Was it their ability to answer all your questions at any given time? Or was it their ability to involve you in the discovery process and make you feel heard? I’m guessing the latter…

I know many of my colleagues are going to challenge me for saying this, but we’re all human, people! We are not programmed machinery, designed to spit out information when someone Googles our minds. We are here to learn, grow, and enjoy life together.

Being a manager requires us to set direction, lead the way, drive and monitor work, and provide coaching to others. It really does. It does not, however, require us to know everything, nor does it mean we have to ‘protect’ anyone. Solving business problems should not demand we forget that reality.

So, here is my challenge to you: Next time you screw up something, take a moment to say, “I’m sorry.” I promise you no one likes to work for a King Manager. After all, you don’t want to be the one piece everybody’s goal is to knock over, talking in chess terms, of course… ☺


  • 6 July 2016

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You’ve maegand a first class post

Lynn says:
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