I’ve had terrible managers, from those who can’t distinguish me from other members of my race, to those who intentionally tried to hold me back professionally, to those who have come into my office screaming about a politically charged topic only to become irate when I disagreed. I’ve also had some really good managers that have promoted my professional growth, and sometimes even my personal growth. These were managers who could do their jobs well, and made me feel like a part of a team. And I’ve had some mediocre managers bordering on good, folks who were competent at their jobs, but did everything they could to hide from conflict, real or imagined, even at the expense of their teams.
But I’ve only had one fantastic manager. Liz challenged me constantly with new projects, large and small. She sent me to classes to learn new things and build my skillset. She provided guidance, but let me do my work the way I worked best. She had complete confidence in my ability (whether I think she should have or not). She made sure to give me credit in meetings where she easily could have not done so. And at every meeting, she made sure to introduce me as Dr. Judy Lytle, because she knew that some people would think I was there to get the coffee. And when someone addressed me as Young Lady in a meeting that I was leading, she took care of it in no uncertain terms. She never let me fail (although I came close a few times). She lifted me up. She made me as successful as I could be.
Liz also sent me home when I was sick, and at least once sent me to the Urgent Care Center. When my mother was dying, she sent me home for a month, and told everyone in the office not to bother me with anything. To this day, Liz and I are still connected through social media. And when she posts videos about dachshunds, I’d like to think it’s because she knows I love dachshunds.
Great managers are magical and some might argue mythical. And I’ll admit that to think you have a good manager, you have to be a good match for his/her management style. But I think all great managers know what their people are capable of, do what they can to support their growth, and lift up their team members. I try to do these things with the folks I work with and manage. I just hope I’m living up to my own expectations when it comes to great managers.