Home > Blogging, Hiring, Software Engineering > Working for the right manager: what to look for

Working for the right manager: what to look for

I could not help myself but to write this blog entry.

It’s very well known that the majority of individuals who elect to leave a company leave because they did not work for the right manager.   The reverse is also true.  Many individuals with multiple job offers will most likely choose an offer where they will work for the right manager.

So … what makes a manager the right manager to work for?

One of my former colleagues, “M”, called me and asked for my advice.   “M” is considering an offer from one of the best technology companies in the world.  It’s a great offer which comes with an added benefit:  several software engineering teams want “M”.

My advice:  select a team with the right manager.   “M” asked me the very same question, “how do I choose the right manager”.

I was glad to share my advice.  The right manager will …

– Lead first, manage second

– Listen first;  answer second

– Make every loser feel like a winner (up to a certain point)

– Always depend on why something is important for the customer as the reason for specific action

– Take an active interest in your career;  will cheerfully answer how he / she develops their team members

– Remain confident when surrounded by people who are much smarter

And – will always show signs of believing and practicing one universal truth …

“If you take care of the who, the what and the when will come”

I wonder how many readers of this blog will respond with a confirmation whether they are working for the right manager.



  1. February 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Excellent advice, Leon! And, conversely, what advice would you give to a friend in a managerial role who had two strong candidates to choose from? Ie, what universal traits make up an excellent employee?

  2. Magda Bologa
    March 1, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Great advice! I am so happy I am currently working for the right manager!

  3. Dean J
    March 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Working with a manager who understands the underlying technologies is absolutely critical to a team’s morale and success.

    Ten years back, I worked for a group where the VP in charge was there simply because we were the smallest team, and he was the CEO’s golfing pal. He’d put busted buzzwords into speeches; “the lartency of the widthband” was one of my favorites. It was an ongoing trainwreck to team morale, as working for him was a professional embarrassment.

    Fast forward to working in finance, and having a manager with no academic background in software… but who was willing to write down a list of tasks, let you choose the first one, and he’d take the next. Leading by example, in this case, got that team to work twice as many hours while trying at least twice as hard.

    The simple act of picking a “can and does lead by example manager” as opposed to a “can’t and doesn’t lead by example”… was something like a 5x productivity multiplier across the entire team, if not even more so.

  4. April 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Absolutely agree, especially with the first two points. I left a major software company because these two points, the second one in particular, were not followed.

    When you add all of these points up and see them in practice it’s a powerful thing. Trust is the foundation of the team and they in turn positively impact others within the organization.

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