Thursday, July 2, 2009

Do Bad Managers Make Us Perform Better?

So, which is more important to you: Having a manager you like, or one who can take you to the top of your profession?

It's certainly an interesting dilemma. In a survey of 380 Major League Baseball players, five of the managers that players say they would "least like to play for" include some pretty successful managers, including Tony LaRussa, who has two World Series wins under his belt. (Full disclosure: I'm a big Cardinals fan.)

And some other big names in the baseball management ranks made the list, including Ozzie Guillen, who was Manager of the Year in 2005, and Joe Torre. (Torre seemed to have a dual personality -- players also named him second as a manager they would MOST like to play for.)

In our workplace culture, it's been said by some that you've got to be a real butthead to survive and rise through the ranks, and being a jerk is rewarded. It appears that even professional baseball players seem to be grappling with that issue.

So, which would you rather have: A manager you don't like who takes you to the "world series," or a manager you like, but who never helps you get to the top of your game?


Unknown said...

Just because many players don't want to play for LaRussa does not mean hes is bad manager. I think your headline is a little misleading.

Anita said...

I guess it's all in the way you look at it. He's obviously a good (great) manager when you look at his results. But is he a "good" manager from the point of view of those who play for him?
Also, I'm really asking this question not just from the baseball perspective. That's just an example. What I'm asking is if you think working for a "good" or "bad" manager impacts what you do in your career. So? Does it?

Jennifer said...

Interesting question! As an athlete, I wanted to play for the best coaches who would teach me the most and bring out the greatest talent in me. I did not always like them, but respected them and their talents as coaches.
As an employee, I want a talented, respected manager too. In our business of executive coaching, we are taking talented managers and fine tuning their skills to help them bring out the best in their employees and create top performers.

Rick Saia said...


As a baseball fan myself (member of Red Sox Nation - sorry about '04), I was a bit dumbfounded to find LaRussa on that list since I've always admired his skills as a manager.

The bigger issue, it seems, is the set of values on which the organization operates. Yes, each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams wants to win the World Series. In business, the goals are much more complex and varied. If the organization espouses professional development and career growth, you want a manager who will foster that and make you want to work for him or her. If a manager can help facilitate that while achieving corporate goals such as profitability, or gain in market share, that's the best of both worlds.

(And that's Terry Francona's a success with the Sox. ;-))

Anita said...

I think you probably speak for a lot of people. If I'm hearing you correctly, I think what you're saying is that mutual respect is really an important part of the equation. It doesn't really sound that hard, but for some workplaces, I think it must be.

Anita said...

In the spirit of cooperation and harmony, we won't even get into '04...
I do see what you're saying about the world of business, and I think you're right. One of the biggest issues seems to be making sure that a good management philosophy starts at the top and makes its way down the ranks through EVERY manager. At a time when companies are cutting back on training costs, I hope that doesn't mean we're going to have even more poorly trained bosses.
Thanks for posting. Go Cardinals!

Unknown said...

I think that I have learned the most from the "bad" managers in my life. They have taught me actions to avoid- the negative role model concept! Often, too much energy is spent on figuring out how to work for poor leaders so performance can suffer.

Great question, Anita.

Anita said...

Your comments certainly reflect what a lot of great business/management leaders have said: Sometimes the most important thing is first figuring out what NOT to do!