By Hani Hmedeh
There was a mid-level manager who joined a corporate firm as a senior technical manager leading different teams. He had high expectations driven by leadership competencies required to manage his teams effectively and deliver projects successfully. After 3 months only, he started facing a true challenge from his direct manager who was trying to limit his authority which in order to fail him.
I know … it sounds weird to have a direct manager trying to limit the capability of his subordinate, but this is a real situation in many companies, and unfortunately, this is the UGLY TRUTH.
Back to the ugly truth, this manager was working very closely with his team with transparency & respect; and after 11 months… he was able to deliver his projects ahead of the schedule with better quality and higher stakeholder/ clients satisfaction.
and the story continues… our manager was able to build new capacity in the team in the following years and gained new opportunities for him and his team. On the other hand, his upper manager was losing his motive to limit his authority and started accepting the TOUGH FACT; simply our manager was UNSTOPPABLE!!! Moreover, our manager was able to turn "assuming to fail projects" to successful ones with a short time frame.
After 3 years, he left the firm and start a new journey continuing his successful career as a senior manager. Our famous guy was an exceptional manager who able to overcome a tough situation with a traditional/old school direct manager.
This is not the end… this was just the beginning!
The logical/ straightforward question did come to our mind is "How was he able to succeed in his journey where he WAS NOT ALLOWED to? How did he make it? What was the secret receipt”?
One day, I had a discussion with him, and this was his reply:
I led by influence and did not manage by authority!!! Authority is power given to you by the upper management, and it can be taken back from you at any time; where influence is the power you own, you offer, you control it and no one can take it from you
"In the end, this is a story of a LEADER… he succeeded as a leader and failed as manager; he was able to perform, deliver and win the journey, but he failed to gain the MISSING AUTHORITY and playing the role of manager as planned."
We might agree with our manager or we might not; however, there is a good lesson that can be learned from this experience. It's a fact that Good Leaders know how to deal with the Ugly Truth, and Good Managers know how to use the real authority, but what we really need nowadays, is managers who practice both strong management skills and effective leadership skills; managers that know how to use the offered authority and extend it by influencing their teams, colleagues and upper management. We also need managers who know how to use their power and their sponsors' power.
By Hani Hmedeh