The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent - and Others Don't

The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent - and Others Don't

The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent - and Others Don't

The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent - and Others Don't


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There are four distinct types of managers. One performs much worse than the rest, and one performs far better. Which type are you?

Based on a first-of-its-kind, wide-ranging global study of over 9,000 people, analysts at the global research and advisory firm Gartner were able to classify all managers into one of four types:
  • Teacher managers, who develop employees' skills based on their own expertise and direct their development along a similar track to their own.
  • Cheerleader managers, who give positive feedback while taking a general hands-off approach to employee development.
  • Always-on managers, who provide constant, frequent feedback and coaching on all aspects of the employee's performance.
  • Connector managers, who provide feedback in their area of expertise while connecting employees to others in the team or organization who are better suited to address specific needs.

  • Although the four types of managers are more or less evenly distributed, the Connector manager consistently outperforms the others by a significant margin. Meanwhile, Always-on managers tend to see their employees struggle to grow within the organization. Why is that?

    Drawing on their groundbreaking data-driven research, as well as in-depth case studies and extensive interviews with managers and employees at companies like IBM, Accenture, and eBay, the authors show what behaviors define a Connector manager, and why they are able to build powerhouse teams. They also show why other types of managers fail to be equally effective, and how they can incorporate behaviors of Connector managers in order to be more effective at building teams.

    Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9780593083826
    Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
    Publication date: 09/17/2019
    Pages: 272
    Sales rank: 636,378
    Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

    About the Author

    Jaime Roca is a Senior Vice President at Gartner managing the global research and advisory team that serves and advises HR executives.

    Sari Wilde is a Managing Vice President at Gartner, managing global teams focused on creating research and products on leadership and talent management.

    Read an Excerpt

    It’s 3:21 on a Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco. Marta Romero walks back to her office from one of her many meetings— exhausted. She has nine minutes before her next meeting with one of her direct reports, Jon Goldberg, who has been having trouble with one of his projects. He is working on launching a new development application. Romero takes a deep breath and exhales— she has been out of the weeds of development for a while and doesn’t have the new technical knowledge to help him. She glances at her list of things to do for that day, which are increasing in number as the day progresses, and clicks control + alt + delete to wake up her computer. Thirty- two emails are waiting for her. Romero feels the tension of managing her own workload while simultaneously trying to coach her staff as they navigate all of their projects— many that require skills and knowledge she doesn’t have. She pauses for a minute and considers whether to push the meeting with Goldberg . . . again. She already rescheduled it ear­lier this month.

    On any given day around the globe the plight of today’s man­agers mirrors Romero’s. Urgent tasks take precedence over an ever-expanding list of expectations and demands. To‑do items, including coaching responsibilities, become “as if” wish lists— and the world spins madly on. Something has to give, but what?

    In many instances, like Romero’s, the coaching and feedback interactions managers would like to have fall by the wayside. Be­yond constant time constraints, many managers simply lack con­fidence in their ability to provide the right guidance across the increasing breadth and depth of employee activities. The result is that managers put off coaching, prioritizing so many other ur­gent activities, or just “wing it” when asked to help in areas where they lack expertise.

    Until now, Romero’s trajectory has been successful. Having climbed the ranks of her midsize technology company, from in­dividual software developer to manager of a thirty-person team, Romero knows that a key to her own success is helping her team become more self-sufficient. She also knows that some work is just easier to do herself than pass along to others, even if it means that emerging tasks have to wait on the back burner until she has the time to get more involved. On a good day, Romero serves as the heart of her team, firing on all cylinders as a subject-matter expert and adviser to her employees. On a bad day, she leaves the office feeling guilty for failing to provide the guidance her em­ployees need.

    As research and advisory leaders at Gartner, we spend hun­dreds of hours every year speaking with senior executives globally, and we continually hear that manager development is a top prior­ity. We know that the effectiveness of managers has a huge impact on employee performance, engagement, and business results across organizations of all sizes, industries, and geographies—and companies are making significant investments to elevate man­ager preparedness through training, coaching, and technology. In reality, regardless of these investments, our data consistently show that managers simply don’t have what they need to succeed in today’s fast-moving, ever- evolving environment.

    But that’s not the complete story. In our work, we also see managers around the globe struggling to “be everything to everyone.” As employees’ jobs become more complex and challenging, so too do managers’ roles. As managers, we feel this ourselves. Organizations are changing quickly, technology is altering how we collaborate with our globally dispersed teams, and the skills we need to lead our teams are changing fast. Employees feel un­prepared and they are demanding more from their managers and their organizations. And we see companies responding accordingly— by launching continuous coaching and feedback initiatives, requiring managers to spend more time providing on­going development to all of their employees across the board. However, managers and leaders are learning that these pro­grams are not achieving their desired outcomes. Managers are overwhelmed and simply not in a position to continuously coach all of their employees effectively across all of their needs.

    After extensive research, we have found a better path for­ward. Rather than trying to “be everything to everyone” and serving as the only answer for all employee needs, the Connector manager approach offers a more enlightened option. It provides the essential coaching and development that employees need, while also providing relief for managers stretched thin and searching for something better.

    Table of Contents

    Introduction ix

    Chapter 1 What Type of Manager Are You? 1

    Chapter 2 The Limits of the Always On Manager 31

    Chapter 3 The Connector Manager 55

    Chapter 4 The Employee Connection: (Really) Get to Know Your Employees 87

    Chapter 5 The Team Connection: Make Development a Team Sport 119

    Chapter 6 The Organization Connection: Ensure Better-Not Just More-Connections 149

    Chapter 7 Creating a Connector Company 173

    Conclusion: Becoming Super Connectors 199

    Acknowledgments 205

    Appendix 1 Connector Manager Action Plan 210

    Appendix 2 Quiz: What Type of Manager Are You? 216

    Appendix 3 Connector Manager Tool Kit 224

    Notes 240

    Index 251

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