In order to do good work – in any realm really, but especially as a manager, where our day to day going-abouts have such tremendous influence on those around us – there is one thing above all other things that we must do, and we owe it not only to ourselves but to the team entrusted to us to do it well.
We have to root our work in love. We have to have passion.
We do not have to love everyone, nor do we have to love all things.
On the contrary, we actually shouldn’t… and attempting to do so is to live out a lie.
But we do have to find and focus on the thing or things that are tethered to our very beings; the things that make us want to get out of bed in the morning; the things that make the good fight feel easy; the things that we go to bat for without even thinking about it.
While the specifics here can vary, it really comes down to two directions of focus, and a great managers can fall into one of these two realms:
You either love the product,
or you love the people who do.
Ideally, we are impassioned – deeply – by the pursuit and delivery of whatever is on the horizon; whatever the team is driving against, whether it is the design and development of new product or its next release; improvements in performance or innovations in design.
But if we don’t love the product – if perhaps we work in a corporate or consulting environment, where this product is something that is not ours and we’re not sure it excites us at our core – then we still must operate with genuine love for something. And if it’s not for the product, then this love should instead be for the people – the team, the client, the customer.
But even if we care more about the people than we do the product, we have to assume that they care about it. And the more it matters to them, the more their wellbeing should matter to us. This means that we are considerate of their work streams, their suggestions, their investment. And most importantly, if nothing else, we can’t go around recklessly ripping the rug out from underneath a team that cares deeply about a product or project simply because we don’t feel the same.
If we can’t find a way love in either regard – can’t find a way to care passionately about the product or the people – then, frankly, we shouldn’t be managing either one.
As managers, it’s best if we feel passionate about what the team is driving toward. That we love the product, the project, or the goal.
But if nothing else, we must at least love the team.