team building and leadership expert michael cardus

We all have had a manger who is less capable or as capable as us.

While having a manager who has the same capability may sound nice, it creates tension.
  • Tension between the Manager & you, because the manager knows that he cannot offer and add any value to your work.
  • Tension between you & the manager, because you feel constrained & frustrated that you can out-think, out-plan, and out-value your own manager plus they are getting paid more than you.

It’s rarer, unfortunately, to have a manager who is “Big Enough” to fill the role of being your manager. This manager is able to truly attract trust and unleash the team and your creativity and best work.

This happens because, the manager who is “Big Enough” is comfortable doing their own work (as a manager) and is able to let you do your best, by setting the proper context of the goals, and leaving you to do your work.

Comparing a Manager that is “Too Small” with a Manager That is “Big Enough”


Manager “Too Small” in Competence Manager “Big Enough” in Competence
  • Cannot set adequate context of the work.
  • Gets involved in too much of the details of how the work gets done.
  • Breathes down the subordinates neck.
  • Appears to be more comfortable doing the work that the subordinates should be doing.
  • Adds NO value to the work of subordinates.
  • Inclined to take credit for what goes well.
  • Blames subordinates for what goes wrong.
  • Sets adequate context of the work.
  • Shares how the Managers work, and the delegated tasks “fit” together into the larger Goals of the organization, department, teams.
  • Allows a level of autonomy for completion of delegated tasks.
  • Knows the time-span of the subordinates work, and lets them get on with their work.
  • Offers coaching (when needed)
  • Is self-assured enough to do their own work, while leaving subordinates to do theirs.
  • Adds value to the work and decisions of others.
  • Acknowledges the accomplishments of the team and gives credit, where credit is due.
  • Accepts the accountability that it is the manager who is ultimately accountable for the output of the team. If things go wrong, it is the managers fault.
  • Inspired by Elliott Jaques ‘Executive Leadership’

What do you think?

Have you had a manager who was “Big Enough” to fill the needed level of work? What about your work was improved because of this? Have you ever had a manager who was “Too Small” to fill the level of work? What about your work was impeded because of this? If you are a manager…how do you know that you have the necessary Managerial-Competence to be “Big Enough”?