The Difference Between Bad Managers and Good Managers

The Business Value of Good Managers

If you want to positively impact the bottom line in your business, there is one thing that will make a bigger difference than almost anything else: Insist that all of your managers are good managers.

There is some research referred to in an HBR blog article by Randall Beck and James Harter (link below) that shows that…

“…the quality of the managers impacts the success of the business more than anything else.”

I am a big believer in this because I regularly see the havoc that bad mangers wreak in my work with companies across the globe, as well as the magic that the good ones create.

Here are some highlights of the research:

Gallup has found that one of the most important decisions companies make is simply whom they name manager.


Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and having too many of them can bring down a company […] Businesses that get it right, however, and hire managers based on talent will thrive and gain a significant competitive advantage.


To make this happen, companies should systematically demand that every team within their workforce have a great manager.


Good Manager Behaviors

If great managers seem scarce, it’s because the talent required to be one is rare. Gallup finds that great managers have the following talents:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

It will serve your business well to make sure that you select, support, train and set expectations about what is required of a good manager in your organization.

Bad Manager Behaviors

I see the vast impact of bad managers close up in my Executive Mentoring Group.

I regularly interact with people from companies in many industries, from all over the world, who are asking for help in how to deal with the ugly, soul-crushing problems that arise from having a bad manager.

Why do so many companies tolerate and even reward bad leaders?

Here is just a sampling of the bad-manager behaviors that have come up in our discussions. People are suffering!

  • Poor communicators. People have no idea what they are thinking or deciding
  • Poor strategic guides. People have no idea how to prioritize work, because decisions and key milestones have never been shared.
  • Unable to think strategically at all. Torturing people with low value work, questions and endless re-work
  • Lack of decision making (will or ability)
  • Lack of accountability. Not owning important outcomes. Passing blame
  • Lazy or disengaged in supporting the team or the team’s reputation in the company
  • Totally unavailable to talk to employees — ever
  • Poor planning and resource management
  • Unwilling, unable to give constructive feedback or deal with performance issues
  • Prevention of opportunities for development and visibility (either actively or just clueless)
  • Lack of ability to understand and make tradeoffs
  • Can’t stick to a long term plan, crisis driven
  • Solely politically motivated
  • A bully or a narcissist…

With bad managers lurking about in an organization, people who should be doing work are instead…

…getting confused, discouraged, frustrated, scared, and are simply not doing the right things for the business.

You need your managers to be engaging, motivating, supporting and facilitating the right work–not preventing it.

Bad managers wreak havoc. Bad managers cost growth and profit.

People who are NOT scared, belittled, bullied, ignored, disrespected, or otherwise tortured by their manager add more value to the company.

People who feel trusted, supported, listened to, and understand how their work supports the strategy will be very productive.

That’s why I do so much work in organizations to help them to set a high standard for leadership, and to guide their managers into being effective, more strategic business leaders, and good managers and leaders of people.

It makes such a huge difference not only to the bottom line, but to the health and sanity of everyone involved!

Insist on Having Good Managers

This idea of making sure that managers are good managers is one I feel so strongly about, it has been a fundamental part of my work for the last 10 years.

I have been delivering workshops to mid-level managers to give them insights and ideas, a structural way to think about what the most effective business leaders do, and the tools to create their own highly effective leadership approach.

New Business Leadership Masterclass

I wanted to let you know about a new video class I am offering in my quest to help more managers become great business leaders.

22 Video Modules, Plus…

This Masterclass is self-paced program that includes 22 video modules of me teaching a live class. It also contains a workbook, templates, and discussion guides.

This is based on the same class I’ve been doing in person for years…I simply could not get on enough airplanes to deliver it to everyone who wanted it. So I’m super excited to be able to offer this flexible option.

What people say…

One of my favorite testimonials from this class was from a new manager who took it 3 years after his manager took the class. Together they came to me and the new manager told me,

“I always thought I got lucky to have such a good manager, but now I realize that he was just doing what you told him! And now I’m excited because I can do it too.”

That’s what you want! It’s always an honor to get to make a difference.

Check out the new Masterclass Here.

The goal of this class is to give leaders the insights and practical tools to know what it looks like to be a great business leader, and the motivation and confidence to go do it personally.

You can watch a bunch of free video and learn what it’s about.

Introductory Discount Offer

There is a great 10 person pilot program offer for your team.

Also, as an introductory offer, I want to offer a 25% discount to individuals. And it includes a membership for 1 year to my Executive Mentoring Group! (So with the discount and the free membership it’s like getting $500 off.)

Take a look and let me know what you think!

If you have any questions you can just hit reply. I’m here.

thanks, Patty

HBR blog article by Randall Beck and James Harter, Why are good managers so rare?

Patty Azzarello

Patty is available to speak at your company, annual meeting, or customer event. She can also deliver a custom workshop on Leadership or Strategy Execution for your leadership team. Contact Patty.

Or if you would like some personal help on your own professional development, check out her Executive Mentoring Group. It’s filled with insights, resources and support to build your executive confidence, advance your career, and includes direct mentoring from Patty.


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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

Get over it. Turn your camera on.
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