The Mistake Good Managers Make

Are you a good manager? If you are, then you’re likely giving too many of these:


Managers become good by understanding the job their team performs. Many times, this is why they were promoted in the first place. 

  • The best sales rep became the sales manager.
  • The fastest delivery driver became the supervisor.
  • The smartest tech guy became the IT manager. 

Managers stay good by not realizing this skill isn’t required to become great. 

It’s the old adage, what got you here, won’t get you there. 

Good managers become Great by asking questions, not by giving answers… 

Let’s walk in the shoes of a good manager for a minute. 

Your day is packed with meetings. Your inbox is overflowing. Chats, Slacks…they’re pilling up. There’s an issue with ABC customer, and at the same time, you owe an update to your boss on an important initiative.

You can’t be in two places at once. Who are you going to save Superman?   

Wait! You’re in luck.

You remember a similar issue from XYZ customer a few years ago and know how to solve it. You tell the team exactly what to do and move on.

Boom! You’re officially a good manager…maybe even really good. But here’s why this is a problem…

Diminishing Returns, Learned Helplessness, and Hero Ball.

Giving answers creates diminishing returns because it only allows for singular thinking. Singular thinking smothers diversity, which is the ignitor for creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. 

The reality is you didn’t take the time to fully understand the problem. You jumped to a convenient answer, creating learned helplessness for your team. 

Instead of facilitating a discussion to clarify the issue, your “wack a mole” management style turns into a game of hero ball

Now, I’m not saying not to provide direction. Not to break a tie. Not to leverage your experience. That all adds value to the team environment. 

But just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean your answer is right. Go through your progressions before making the throw. 

By the way, giving answers also creates another costly side effect… 

Let’s walk in my shoes for a minute.

When I became a newly minted VP, I was put in charge of a high-potential, high-growth service line. We started to scale and engage many cross-functional teams across the business. Lots of people had lots of questions. 

Anytime there wasn’t a clear path, the default response became, “Let’s ask Brian, he’ll make a decision.” 

And if I’m honest, this was great….initially.

But over time, I noticed that other departments were still coming to me with routine questions. 

When I would ask my team why they didn’t just make the decision, they would say, “well, I told Finance, Sales, or IT this is what we should do, but they wanted to ask you anyway.”

Without intending, I was blocking their growth and mine…twice. 

Doing it Desirably Different. 

Giving answers blocks your team’s ability to use their individual strengths to collaborate, make decisions, and discover creative solutions to ambiguous problems. 

When you don’t know how to do something, that means you’re going to do it differently. 

– Sara Blakely

That isn’t a winning recipe in the knowledge economy. 

Great managers create desirable difficulty by asking questions instead of giving answers. 

So let me ask you a question…whose shoes are you going to walk in today?

Published by brianhquinn

I write a weekly post to help you grow professionally, elevate your career and Become an "A" Player.