Dr Austin Tay





There have been articles recently written in Harvard Business Review and Forbes about organisational culture, how to work with your managers and what kind of leaders you work and have in an organisation. I thought it might be apt to muscle in on my perspective on the managers I have encountered in my days of working in organisations. To be clear, there is no exhaustive list of the types of managers one can and will encounter in any organisations. What is more important to note that the types of managers in one way or often more can be the reason why people leave organisations.


Type 1 – The Over Promise and Under Deliver Manager


This type of manager will agree to almost everything just to get your support but unfortunately never deliver what they promise. They will find reasons to cover their inability to lead others. In an organisation I used to work for, I had a manager who told me that he liked my ideas and would provide all the support I needed to develop the business. Two weeks later, he turned mental and started to pick on everything I did (even when he had earlier agreed on the course of actions). He became very temperamental and demanded ridiculous results. ‘You should not go to network events if you cannot guarantee you are able to get business from attending these events’.


Type 2 – The Elusive Manager


This type of manager, to me, is the most peculiar. This type of manager will paint you a very rosy picture to the role you are employed for, will share with you his strategy (broad strategy – basically the organisation’s) and will lead you to believe that you have all the support and tools to become successful. In my last role working for an organisation, I had a manager who started out very nice and then he started to keep things to himself. We used to do weekly catch up with another colleague but that eventually stopped. He will not share what his strategies were and we were all left to our own devices. I was happy to have the autonomy and able to look at different avenues to bring in revenue. He kept me away from what other colleagues were doing in other regions even when I insisted, on many occasions, to be involved in their weekly meeting. What perplexed me was the fact that we sat close to each other (an open plan office) but he just did not communicate. I remember on various occasions, clients will call and I was not able to help because I was not kept in the loop. After attempts at trying to get him to communicate openly, I gave up.


Type 3 – The Sly Manager


This type of manager, the most sinister of the lot, will take credit for work done by someone else and does not like to be outshone by others. In one of my earliest job, I was reporting to a managing consultant based in Singapore. It was particularly interesting that as someone who has been in the organisation for 3 years and has done various projects; she has conveniently ‘forgotten’ to tell me the procedures and processes. When I approached her for information on clients, projects or even products, all I got from her was, ‘they are all in the shared folders, look for them yourself’. Surprisingly after sieving through folders after folders, the information I was supposed to find was never there in the first place, were incomplete or out-dated. She, somehow, was always able to have that information (updated) on hand. I found out later from other colleagues that sharing was not her virtue as she kept most of the information in her own folders on her computer


I remember one incident where she got upset that I made contact with my peers in Europe. She told me that I should not initiate contact with other colleagues as all introductions should be done by her. Yes, of course, I ignored her and went on to collaborate well with my colleagues in Europe, States and Australia. Needless to say, I had various altercations with her (not because I chose to deliberately do so) but the games she played was just too petty and unfortunately, she had the upper hand as she sat next to the boss, I was swiftly told off.


What I learned from all this is that there are all sorts of people in an organisation. When some of them are given power, rightful so or not, some will choose to lead others by doing things that benefit themselves while some will lead others like a good leader should. While one cannot choose who you work with, one needs to either work around such managers or take the bold step to leave the organisation.

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