From 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Dr. James K. Harder and Rodd Wagner:
We are often asked what makes great managers perform so well.
Some of it is pure talent — a natural ability to discern an employee’s mindset, a persistent optimism, or a strategic acumen difficult to duplicate. Some of it is a deeply held personal mission to change the world for the better.
Much of it also requires that a front-line supervisor have the same experience with the 12 Elements as those he directs. One of the most fundamental needs of a great manager is . . . a great manager.
As obvious as that statement may be, there is an undercurrent running through many organizations that assumes recognition and praise, a mentor, clear expectations, and the rest of the 12 are required only for the front lines. The best managers, so this line of thinking goes, are more self-aware and self-contained, impervious to such forces, and able to maintain a steady course without much regard for the circumstances.
The evidence is just the opposite. The engagement of managers ebbs and flows just as much as it does for anyone else. Moreover, the engagement level of a manager correlates strongly with the attitudes of her team. No one is an island.
. . . The anecdotes and, more important, analyses of manager performance point out that one of the best things a senior executive can do to motivate the entire population in a company is to first look out for the enterprise’s supervisors. Before a person can deliver what he should as a manager, he must first receive what he needs as an employee.