Bill Gates Suggestions For How To Become A Better Manager

The secret is to not just manage people
The secret is to not just manage people
Image Credit: Greg Rubenstein

I don’t know about you, but I’m always open to getting some advice. Being a manager is hard work and I don’t claim to know how to do everything correctly. What I would really like is if someone that I really respected would take the time to point out what I should be doing in order to become a better manager. It turns out that, of all people, Bill Gates is willing to do just that. Hey, if he’s talking to me, then I had better be listening.

What Does Bill Gates Want Us To Do?

Let’s face it, Bill Gates is a success. He used his manager skills to build the company Microsoft up from the ground, ran it for a number of years, and then successfully handed it off. Oh yeah, along the way he also become a billionaire and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. What a lot of us managers may overlook is that in order to accomplish everything that he has done, Bill needed to manage people. This is why when he is willing to share leadership principles with us, we had better take the time and listen to him.

Bill’s key point for us to learn is simple. What he has said is this “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others“. That’s is, it’s really no more complicated than that. Managers need to understand that leaders can set themselves apart by effectively empowering people in times of uncertainty. What we need realize is that empowerment comes in many forms. Managers should be empathetic to meet team member’s needs, do whatever it takes to protect both employees and the business, and be mindful of the mental health needs of their team members.

How Can Managers Empower Team Members?

One of the most important things for managers to learn how to do is to put the members of your team first. Every manager’s role involves proactively responding daily to the challenges facing their team. Whether it’s meeting to discuss steps to protect employees or the business, good managers are being empathetic to meet people’s needs. They are being mindful of the mental health needs of their team members and their families as social isolation, potential ill health, economic hardships, and other uncertainties of life weigh on the members of their team in unique ways. No, we don’t have any manager training in how to go about doing this, but we still need to try to do a good job.

Ask Your Team Members To Take Mental Health Days

The first step for managers to help team members manage the overwhelming stress that they may be feeling is to offer days off to tend to mental health. But managers must set the example first and actively promote when they are taking a mental health day to show team members that it’s OK to do the same. When team members see managers take days off specifically for a mental health break, it provides a form of unspoken permission for team members to do the same without fear of repercussions.

Allow Team Members To Simply Be Human

I think that we can all agree that team members are emotional creatures and these are emotional times. Managers should ease off on seeking perfection in their team members and instead provide an environment where team members can express themselves openly. Allow for some team building to happen. Emotional vulnerability is one of the most important qualities one can have as a manager. Our jobs make up a large portion of our lives, and asking your team members to turn off their emotions for eight hours every day invites emotional disconnectedness in all aspects of life, and can undermine self-confidence.

What All Of This Means For You

As managers, I hope that we all realize that none of us have all of the answers. Instead, what we all need is some advice – hopefully from somebody that has been successful at what we are all trying to do. It turns out that Bill Gates, the guy who started and ran Microsoft, has a few words of wisdom for us as we try to make our way through troubling times. Bill has been very successful in getting people to rally around an idea and accomplish great things. I think that we should all probably listen to what he has to tell us.

First off, managers need to find ways to empower the members of their teams. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this but the most important is for us to stay aware of how they are currently feeling. Allowing team members to take mental health days can be a great way to allow them to recharge. As managers, we need to take mental health days simply to show everyone that it’s ok to do this. Managers should stop trying to make their team members be perfect and they should start to allow them to express themselves openly.

The good news for managers is that what Bill Gates is telling us to do is not really all that hard to do. What he’s really suggesting that we do is to take the time to listen to what the members of our team are telling us and then be empathetic to the situations that they find themselves in. Being an understanding manager now will yield great rewards for us later on. No, none of us may go on to run Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take some advice from the guy who did.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How many mental health days do you think that you should allow team members to have?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person who is in charge of a team of professionals, it has always been your job to make sure that everyone is doing well. Now that we are attempting to work our way through a pandemic, things like that have become a bit more difficult to do. However, it has become even more important that as managers we are able use our manager skills to detect when members of our team are starting to feel burned out and then we need to be able to step in and do something about it. The big question that most of us are currently facing is just exactly what can we do to help out our team members when it all just becomes too much to deal with?