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Why Being a Good Manager Isn’t Good Enough Anymore


Back in the Baby Boomer days, and just before Millennials hit the job market in large numbers, the standard expectations of bosses was to be, well, just a boss. Whether you were subpar or a good manager, there was no need or drive for a company to have great leaders instead of good managers, because employers used to always have the same thing- the upper hand over employees.

After the 2009 recession, the market was full of folks desperate for some sort of paycheck, no matter the job. Job satisfaction, a healthy work/life balance, and benefits beyond a dollar sign were not a priority for employees, and therefore not a priority for employers. Families recovered from the crash and learned financial lessons while at jobs they didn’t enjoy, knowing there was not much of a choice. Either have the sucky job, or head back to the unemployment line.

Luckily for job seekers, the pendulum was on the upswing again as the economy starting to recover. New types of jobs and ways to work (offshore, free lance, contractor) became more of the norm, retirement and healthcare options became more available outside of employers, and states started increasing minimum wage to finally attempt to catch up with the cost of living. Since the economy went on an upswing, the upper hand started tilting in tandem into the direction of the employees. Baby Boomers started nearing retirement age and Millennials rose in the ranks from entry-level employees to leadership, the unemployment rate went from 10.2% in October 2009 (shortly after the crash) to 3.7% in September 2018,  and with that shift came more demands from the job- flexibility, jobs with meaning and emotional connection, a healthy work/life balance, modernized work culture, and more.

Gradually, if you were an employer and couldn’t meet the new demands for more, you were risking higher turnover rates. Plus on top of losing employees you have to invest more money and time into finding and onboarding new staff. Employers started to shape up, because they realized when the odds are in the employees favor, just being a manager is not enough for employees to stay. In fact, being ‘just a good manager’ can contribute to the loss of employees. Out of 1 million employees US workers surveyed, 75% said they left their jobs because of their bosses, and not because of the position itself. And on top of that, 56% of employees said they would turn down a 10% raise to stay with a great boss. Add to that the fact that most types of insurance is now available on an open marketplace, employers are now in competition with on another for candidates, and you have a recipe for potential disaster for companies that refuse to modernize their culture and their management structure.

It comes down to the fact that, in today’s economy, employees number one factor in a job is no longer just a paycheck. It’s about leadership and the culture. If you want to keep employees and increase longevity potential, you must shift from hiring managers to creating leaders. So what is the difference between a manager and a leader? Many of the key differences between a good manager and a good leader can be easily identified by the key items below.


  • Tell employees what their job is and how to do it
  • Hold employees to the same performance standard as designated by the company
  • When employee performance fails, take disciplinary action
  • Centralize day-to-day obligations and duties to their team around how they are evaluated as a manager



  • Continuously retrain and adapt training to fit employees style, and ensure employees strengths are showcased, and shortcomings are improved upon
  • Hold employees to some of the same standards for core duties, and personalizes performance measurement for each employee
  • Consistently invest time, emotion, and effort into employee development in current role, and future roles
  • Take responsibility for employees shortcomings, faults, and actively work to aid in improving their performance
  • Practice adaptive leadership techniques to lead by employees preference, not their own
  • Centralize day-to-day duties to team around how to obtain the best performance and culture for team to thrive


When all else fails, just remember and follow the words of Richard Branson:

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”.



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