Is there a place in today’s organization for a demanding manager? Many years ago, I interviewed for a position with someone who was known as being the best in the business. I wanted to be the best too so I accepted the job even though I was warned she could be intimidating, tough and exacting.
I have to admit she lived up to her reputation. For six months, I found myself dreading our interactions. She ripped apart my writing and my proposals. She had this look of complete disapproval when I failed to meet her expectations. I’ll never forget what happened in one of our first trips by car to present to a client. I got that look when she found a typo in a document we were about to deliver. Her ability to affect my equilibrium was so great, I almost rear-ended the car in front of us!
Funny thing is her demeanor changed after I survived my six-month initiation. I realized she was really kind and fun and once she knew I could do the job, she trusted me and gave me the space to shine. I also know that the business person I became is largely due to what I learned under her tutelage.
It’s been said that everyone you meet is your perfect teacher. As we consider leadership in the 21st century, I’d like to believe there is still room for demanding managers. I, for one, am indebted to the one I had.