Being demanding but empathetic

A demanding manager exercises tough love with his/her team members. He/she is tough on the team but in a well-intentioned way. He/she is not overbearing and does not badger people into submission. Hence working with such a boss in not a traumatic experience and you end up riding a steep learning curve.

An unreasonable manager on the other hand can be an employee's worst nightmare. As they say, a drop of poison ruins a pot of milk. An unreasonable manager in a team can be a source of misery to all team members involved and such behavior should be repudiated.  Working with the unreasonable manager can be extremely detrimental to the morale of any employee. I have known people quitting jobs without having another job at hand, just because the manager was unbearable to work with.

One of my previous bosses told me the secret to having a rocking career. He called it the “Zen Of Work” which comprised three aspects – Izzat (respect), Matlab (meaning) & Masti (fun). Now Izzat (respect) is the most critical part of working in a team, and when that is lost the team dynamics goes for a complete toss.


 Tips on how you can be a ‘demanding but empathetic’ manager

  • Let your subordinates know that you have the best intentions in mind and want them to grow with you.
  • Give your subordinates a free hand to execute on the plans that have been laid out. Do not micro manage.
  • Feedback is the breakfast of champions! Ensure that you regularly seek feedback from the team that you are working with.
  • Respect his or her individuality and acknowledge that everyone operates with a different world lens view.
  • You can’t sit on a camel and drive sheep! You need to be on the ground and work hand in hand with your team members in order for your team to succeed!

Many people would say that Steve Jobs was a pretty tough boss to work with at Apple. Infact, He was probably one of the most intimidating bosses to work for in the Silicon Valley. Yet he managed to gather an ardent fan following and many people wanted to work with him. He cracked the algorithm of mentoring people to follow his vision and get the entire world sing paeans in his praise!

Showing tough love to your subordinates can have a force multiplier effect in terms of the productivity and growth. Also remember that no one needs to put up with the grief that you provide him or her. So respect the individual and be firm but not forceful while being demanding.

Companies need to invest significant energies in training the management team with regards to the softer aspects of people management. Having a tough manager at the work place does in some way prepare you to handle bigger conflicts in life. So essentially, you can think of a demanding manager as your teacher when your graduate out of the “School of Hard Knocks”.