I’ve worked for a lot of idiot managers in my career. And then, one day, after I had become a manager, it dawned on me: Now I’m the idiot! You see, most of my career has been an exercise in “trial by fire.” This process worked well when I was a designer and was trying to master the art of the task flow, site map, wireframe, prototype, persona, and so on. In leadership positions, the option to go back to the drawing board or to iterate hasn’t always been readily available—nor as painless to my pride and potentially my pocketbook.
Many of these lessons haven’t been easy for me to learn. It’s been tough to simultaneously remove obstacles without becoming one, or learning how to say “no” (and the flavors of yes and no!) when I’ve also wanted people to be satisfied with me and the work I’m doing. However, these lessons have all helped me become better at managing to some degree, while instilling a strong sense of empathy for those people who either report to me, or bless their souls, manage me in one way or another.
If you’re interested in learning from some of the hard lessons I’ve learned, or in just laughing at my folly, there will be plenty of material to provide you with either opportunity.