The intense manager

Jun 07, 2010

Over the years of working with A/E and environmental firms, I have run into those who will try to tell you that some managers are “too intense.” It’s as if these people are saying there is something wrong with someone who is too committed to doing their job well. “Hogwash,” I say! We all need MORE— not FEWER— of these intense managers. These are the people who work their butts off to make the company successful. They overcome all obstacles and get other people to perform as well. They will get 10 times as much done as their seemingly well-balanced but less-intense counterparts. They aren’t sick or unbalanced— and even if they are, they are still your BEST managers. So how can you tell if you are looking at one of these all-too-scarce intense managers? Here are my thoughts: They constantly check their BlackBerries or other mobile devices, yet are very discreet about it. Other people expect answers to their questions and they aren’t going to hold them up. They get on the phone immediately at every single break when they have a moment to make a call. They cannot afford to waste time. There’s a job to be done and they know that any call that doesn’t get returned promptly is a potential problem that isn’t being fixed or opportunity that’s being missed. They are perfectly willing to get into a lengthy work-related e-mail or text discussion with you at 10 o’clock at night. These people go to bed late and get up early. All waking hours are work hours! They never go to lunch alone— but instead always go with a client or co-worker. Why waste a chance to get something done? You talk with them about family or sports— and they always turn the conversation back around to work. They are obsessed with their projects and their people. You drive with them somewhere and notice that they are always passing vs. being passed. They also don’t drive like we were all taught in terms of acting as if there’s an egg between our foot and the accelerator pedal! You walk with them in an airport and notice that they don’t stop on the moving walkway or escalator, but instead take the opportunity to get ahead. They don’t have much tolerance for people who move slowly. They know where all their ARs stand, how profitable each project is, and exactly where trouble is going to pop up before it does. They are well-informed and know where they stand on any and all performance metrics used buy the firm. They know each of the people who work for them well— and can anticipate how each will respond in any particular situation. They are excellent students of human behavior. They are voracious readers of everything that may help them do their jobs better. This includes everything related to their disciplines, the clients they serve, and how to be a better business person. Intensity is not a sign of something wrong when it comes to your managers. Tough times take people who are much more committed and serious about their jobs. Your survival and success as a company may depend on it. Originally published 6/7/2010

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