The toughest job of management

Now that I soon will be a manager for the first time in my life I am about to face the toughest job I’ve ever faced:

Making other people stars.

This has been on my thoughts for months. What Jeff Sandquist did so well was let me be the star.

This is counterintuitive, so listen closely.

What happened when he did that? Other people wanted to join his team.

He let them be stars too. Adam Kinney and Charles Torre are two of the most talented developers I’ve ever watched. I’d hire them in a nano-second, if they were on the market (they aren’t, cause Jeff treats them right).

How did he get Laura and Tina? Cause he understood his role: let his stars be stars and make sure they have everything they need to succeed.

It’s interesting but Jeff’s leadership helped with Channel 9 too. I learned from him that it’s better to turn the spotlight away from you and onto other people. That led to my decision to rarely be on camera and always put the focus on my interview subject. What was interesting was that by doing that I got even more attention.

We’ll soon see if I’m a good manager, but a lot of what I’m writing lately is just reminders to myself as to what I want to do when I join PodTech.

I’ve learned that in between jobs is a powerful time to write. Remember my Corporate Weblog Manifesto? I wrote that to myself right before I started my Microsoft job to remind myself of what I needed to do.

Yeah, this was punctuated by Amanda Congdon’s leaving from Rocketboom. I don’t know what happened beyond the “he said, she said” stuff that’s going on on their blogs. I’d rather link to their mediator, Chuck Olsen.

What’s going on makes me remember my divorce. I remember wanting to lash out. I remember talking with Buzz Bruggeman. He told me “take the high road.” I didn’t always follow his advice, but I tried to. It paid off well for me (Maryam now gets along with Patrick’s mom, enough that all three of us spent an afternoon together recently — that was mighty weird for me, let me tell you!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, I’d love to have Amanda working for me work for Amanda, cause that’s really what a manager does. And, even more, Chuck (the world needs more mediators, not to mention a guy who is talented with a camera, even during stressful times).

It soon will be time for me to sit back and let other people become stars.

Oh, and if they do become stars and want to leave, help them negotiate the best possible deal. Although, if I’m honest, I’ll tell you to see Maryam whenever it’s time to negotiate anything. I’m very happy she’s on my side.

What do you think the toughest job of management is? Any advice as I head into PodTech?