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There is a saying that people leave their managers, not their companies. It’s a truism because we read it, think about our experience, and agree. It has either happened to us, or we see how it could have happened to us. Most of us have had a bad manager. Yours has probably already popped into your head. Perhaps s/he is in the room with you right now. Oh dear.

My worst manager was a passive aggressive bully. A thoroughly depressing combination of immaturity and anger. He would complain about me and other unnamed people through Facebook, and once went 3 months without talking to me. As predicted by the truism, I moved on. He may have mentioned my departure on Twitter.

Mind you I came off better than Debbie Stevens, who donated her kidney to her boss, who then sacked her! Yes really. And at least I didn’t work for Jim Dolan, the former boss of Madison Square Gardens who sacked one employee for not recognising him and another for serving him flat coke.

But of course most managers aren’t that bad, and many are exceptionally good. So what is it that makes the difference? What makes a good manager? What do the people above lack that a good manager has?

Well, the sheer number of management books and courses and gurus that exist would suggest that the answer is complicated. But I really don’t think that it is. I think that there is one set of key skills that good managers and leaders have: emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise emotions in yourself and other people and, as a result, to manage your behaviour and your relationships. In simple terms it works like this…

You are a manager, you know yourself, and so you know your strengths and weaknesses. You know that you like to be praised, recognised, respected and motivated. You understand those things about yourself – that you work better, that you want to perform better, when you get these things. So you recognise that other people, the ones you manage, might have specific, similar needs to. You therefore try to understand them to get the best out of them.

Ta da. How easy is that? That will be £499 + VAT. Oh bugger, this is the free special offer, isn’t it? And of course it’s one thing to recognise what makes a good manager, it’s another to develop the skills. But that’s where Real Clear comes in.

In the coming weeks and months – when we get around to it basically – this blog will highlight the key components of emotional intelligence and how we can develop our EI skills. In the meantime, do not go up to your bad manager and say “Dave, your problem is that you have no emotional intelligence, go get some”. Especially if he isn’t called Dave.