What type of manager are you – a team-maker or team-breaker?

Red boat as leader


“A manager being the face of the team has all the power to either make or break the team.” 

To illustrate this statement, let me start with a real-time workplace scenario which inspired me to write this article in first place. There was a newly established team struggling to adjust to the new environment technically and methodologically. They were assigned a manager who was a self-proclaimed super-human and I-am-the-boss type whose sole aim was to prove his management skills to his senior leaders.
The manager was so aggressively alert that no mistake could escape from under his nose. Hence, continuous meetings and multiple interactions in a day between the manager and the team became a norm. Moreover, in desperation, he kept relaying the sentences repeatedly which exuded nothing but vacuous accusations, denigrations, and bragging. His negativity was palpable even in his conversations: “I see so many loop-holes in the project”, “There are so many things which could have been better”, “My ideas became the game-changer in my previous organization. I did so-and-so in that company. I changed the whole trend…”, “You guys are not clear with your roles and responsibilities at all. You have been acting inefficiently.”, “I am no-one but the superman, really.” and on and on and on.
After several such interactions, team started feeling that they are shoved in a cave filled with an absolute darkness. Self-doubt, insecurity, uncertainty, vulnerability, and incapacitated thought started taking place in the team’s dynamics. The team had no idea what loop holes were observed by their manager, what game-changing idea was visualized, and what roles and responsibilities they failed to uphold. Gradually, the team lost motivation to pursue any activity and one fine day was the final day of the team. It was broken.
What went wrong there?
It is evident that the manager did nothing but “break” the team – intentionally or unintentionally. Could he do something differently? The answer is ‘yes’ and the solution is very simple – a proper guidance with the usage of right words.
Had the team been managed by a manager who was intended to “make” the team would have never committed the offences mentioned above. Rather he would have taken a different route altogether because a good manager follow these basic and simple principles:
Lincoln - the great leader

1. Know that every strength has a limit
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An effective manager is cognizant of his subordinates’ strengths as well as limitations. Reminding one about their inefficiencies and weaknesses would only lead to disaster, but on the other hand capitalizing on one’s forte could bring a game-changing improvement. Knowing this very fact, they encourage their associate to be innovative walking on the path of their own assets.

2. Do not mislead if you cannot lead

Rather than jostling the team into a dark cave in difficult situation, a good manager who is also the anchor of the project would rather create an impression of a tunnel where the team could see the light on the other end. A good manager utilizes his acumen and prior experiences not to brag but to assign some action items to the team and to guide them to get away with any hardship.

3. Keep grooming the management-vocabulary

Words have power and managers who are team-makers are aware of such power. And thus, they control their words. They know the art of replacing a negative word with positive without losing the essence of the subject. A very simple example pertinent to the scenario mentioned earlier could be:
A good manager would have refrained from saying “I see so many loop holes”. He would have preferred to say “I see some areas of improvements”. Or instead of “You are being inefficient nowadays”, he would use “Let us try to act in this way. You are good at this, so we could proceed in this manner.

4. Praise publicly but criticize personally

This is a rule all influential managers follow without fail. They do not forget to reward and call-outs the good deeds. But when they notice any lackluster behavior or sluggish progress of an associate, they keep the interaction confined to the one-to-one meetings respecting one’s dignity. Not to forget, criticizing publicly could be easily tagged as an assault.

5. Spend time for shaping your own attitude

No degree, no diploma, and no professional class in this world would teach one how to have a good attitude. It comes from within. A positive attitude emancipates positivity and it touches the life of every person around. Good managers put all efforts to keep their attitude positive and healthy at workplace. They know that there could be a different angle to an issue and hence they avoid being critical and judgmental for any situation. Rather than playing the blame-game, they collaborate to focus on finding the solution. They make sure that their workplace does not turn poisonous.
The list does not end here. A good manager keeps learning as well as keeps educating. He does his best to keep the enthusiasm of the team intact.
What is your mantra of managing your subordinates? Do share your experiences with us.


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Shweta Kumari

Shweta is a writer, blogger, bookohlic, information seeker, women empowerment enthusiast, and a full-time mother. Her world revolves around her two boys - her kid and her husband. She is passionate about writing, reading, writing again, and then reading again…..and the cycle goes on.

2 thoughts on “What type of manager are you – a team-maker or team-breaker?

  1. Great article ! So true. I find especially true when unqualified people ‘get a job’ they’re not ready for. Instead of letting the teams do what they’re good, they try to implement ideas from their past to get their imprints on things that work well…

    Then, discomfort, lack of trust and disfunction happens, leading to management by ‘dividing and conquering rather than assembling and rallying.

    Anyhow. Thanks !

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