Be an Anti-Manager

This is not meaningful.

Organizations introduce management controls to reduce output variance, and managers manage their people to gain productivity. But the best productivity tool is meaning, and the problem is that management limits meaning. Too much management is counterproductive.

When you manage your employees or your team members in a project, every mistake that a management tool corrects also takes away their ability to use their own judgment and makes their job less meaningful. When you manage, your people don’t solve problems; they do what you tell them to and then they check a box. This certainly makes things predictable and cuts down on variance. It also severely limits the value you get out of your people. Their value stays untapped because you aren’t letting them (or demanding they) use it.

Aspire to be an anti-manager. Whereas a manager’s first instinct is to figure out how to manage a person’s output, an anti-manager looks to avoid managing it. Anti-managers first look to inspire their employees. Instead of telling their people what to do, an anti-manager asks her employees what to do. When you inspire your people to stop relying on instructions and checklists, they use their unique talents to create far more value than can be managed out of them.

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  1. Hi Phil,

    Is being an anti-manager the equivalent of being a servant leader (we discussed it here before).

    A servant leader is very similar to an anti-manager when it comes to inspiring employees – I think this is where management is heading to.

    • Phil Martie says:

      Hello PM Hut –

      First, thanks for the link to your article. I read it and my answer to you is that the anti-manager concept is different than servant leadership. They can coexist, but they are not the same. Anti-management is about tasking employees with outcomes but not dictating how they achieve it. Servant leadership covers much more ground and is all-encompassing.

      With anti-management, the goal is to literally strip away management controls as much as possible.


  1. […] happens when you anti-manage great people who are addicted to overcoming obstacles? They push you, and sometimes they push you […]

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