Foraging A New Brand Of Manager: Combining differing traits produces results
by Peter Urs Bender
In all my years of studying and analyzing boardroom presenters and top managers I have
come to one conclusion: combining two very opposite management styles creates the best
managers. The two ends of the spectrum can be summed up as "reportability," found
mainly in males, and "rapportability," a predominately female characteristic.
These names reflect two major management styles. One emphasizes reason, logic and
analysis of while the other stresses instincts, feelings and institution-what I call
In the Western world, it has been common to regard these two styles as exact opposites.
I have observed the best management style as a melding of both. At one point in time
the reporter might be more dominant, at another, the rapporter. Both qualities are
essential in any good manager.
Traditionally, it has been believed by some that the male has tended to look out more
for himself than his group. Others have believed the female has been the empathetic
one. She has looked out for herself, as well as others. In traditional nuclear
families, the male's historic role has been to bring home the bacon. The female
looked after the comfort of everyone.
You can still see vestiges of these roles in corporate annual reports. Men are more
likely to be shown alone, or signing the big deal with another co-equal. Women are
often photographed in departments or in groups with co-workers.
Today, however, the face of business and society is changing rapidly. Both men and
women need to be gainfully employed. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it
is resulting in changes both in the workplace and at home.
Traditionally, managers have encouraged employees to leave personal problems at home.
But today, a productive manager is one who can help employees with problems both at
work and at home. A productive employee is one who has both houses in order. A good
manager is one who can understand an employee's personal feelings; rapporters are
good at this.
It is also interesting to observe how they build rapport. I have taught thousands of
managers to "present with power" over the years. Yet, never once have I had a woman
start her presentation with a joke. When they begin their speeches, they generally
automatically try to link with the group. They instinctively realize the most
important element in any presentation is the bond of trust that must be generated
between presenter and listener.
With a reporter it is a completely different story; they like to open with a joke.
For some reason, if they are not good telling jokes one-on-one, they often think that
with an audience of 30 people they will be 30 times better. Anyone in the audience
can attest that it does not work that that way. They also like to open with a very
strong opinion, which puffs them up in front of the group. They do not realize they
are missing an opportunity to build rapport, and hence trust, with their audience.
One factor that can make it difficult for women to get into senior management
positions is perception. Men are more used to being "thought of" as managers. It is
a tradition that is hard to break. But it is slowly being broken down. And the more
it is, the more it will be.
Women can also be their own worst enemies. I think it is almost a fact of human
nature that once a person is admitted to membership in a small, exclusive group their
tendency is to want to limit membership in that group to keep it exclusive. It is
called "kicking away the ladder." It is a tendency that needs to be resisted.
The ideal manager, leader and entrepreneur is really a combination of the tough,
logical, analytical, profit-oriented individual and the caring, sharing, loving,
and feeling person.
In the old days, the single-dimension manager was quite effective and efficient. But
in our changing world, we need more and more managers with the rapport necessary to
encourage employees to be more productive.
The sensitive touch, while not always rewarded as it should be, is much more highly
valued than before. It will become increasingly important as organizations try to
change and respond to modern circumstances. It acts to soften the rigidity of
guidelines without making them less important. The result is to encourage action
rather than ordering it.
Rapporters are also more sensitive to their environment than reporters. They
understand employees will produce better in pleasant conditions than in poor ones.
That is because they also know that when set on the right path and encouraged by
pleasant surroundings, employees can be urged to set self-targets and fulfill
them without excess supervision.
I think it is merely a matter of time before rapporters will out number reporters
in the boardroom.
Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada’s most dynamic and entertaining business speakers. He lives and works out of Toronto. He is the author of four best-selling business books: Leadership from Within, Secrets of Power Presentations, Secrets of Power Marketing, Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication, and Gutfeeling.
To read excerpts from his books visit www.PeterUrsBender.com.