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Graham: The Motivational Manager

August 27, 2012

Being a manager (or co-worker, or family member,or any sort of human being, really) who facilitates progress moves you one huge step closer to making the people around you a little peppier.

Being Graham is another way to be a cheery manager. Graham was identified by my favorite researchers, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, as a particularly effective manager during one of their studies. 4 characteristics made this guy good.

Three Fingers Pointing Back at You

Graham “established a positive climate” and “set behavioral norms for the entire team”. In the face of crisis he engaged with the TEAM to analyze and solve the problem. He did not panic. He did not point fingers. His style of going to the team in times of trouble gave them a sense of meaning within the organization, brought calm to the situation and created positive forward movement.

The Sixth Sense

Aside from a nice calm, problem solving climate, this guy also developed trusting relationships with his underlings. Because they knew he wouldn’t flip his lid if they told him about a setback, team members frequently updated him by their own volition. One of the colleagues noted that while Graham didn’t like bad news, “he seemed to understand.”


As a result of this free back and forth that happened between Graham and his subordinates, he knew what was up in their work lives. He knew if they needed project/personal related motivation, or project/personal related roadblocks removed. When he didn’t know this on his own, he would ask.

The Last Elusive Characteristic

So, you’ve heard about Graham. You’ve read about all these cool things he does, from keeping calm, to being a good listener, to even giving team members inspirational speeches. Maybe you even want to be like Graham. Alright, then I present to you his last magical characteristic.Graham did not micromanage.

Check in next week to learn the 4 ways you can overcome micromanaging and become a good guy Graham.

Source: The Power of Small Wins by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer in the Harvard Business Journal


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