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Are You a “Tell” Manager or a “Sell” Manager?

Is it better to have a slightly more dictatorial manager or one that is open-minded and encourages their team to speak their own thoughts? In an article for Project Smart, Duncan Haughey explores the pros and cons of the domineering “tell” manager and the easy-going “sell” manager.

Say It, Don’t Spray It?

The “tell” manager is the type to lead a meeting with little to no discussions. This quick environment is conducive to no arguments, as well as a clear-cut direction for the team to follow. All of the accountability will fall on this manager, and there is a clear line of authority to follow when reporting is needed. The drawbacks include: a narrow perspective because the entire project is based on one person’s point of view, they ignore the ideas from the team, the team can become unhappy or frustrated, and potential risks or issues are often not emphasized.

The “sell” manager encourages input from everyone on the team and a meeting is run more like a conversation without an over-domineering authority. These managers explore different options available for project delivery, in addition to thoroughly going over potential risks and issues. They are supportive of the team, encourage unity, and explore the expertise of each member on the team. The drawbacks might include: reaching a consensus can be arduous, meetings are time-consuming with a lack of clarity, and the accountability remains unclear because everyone is involved.

So which idea is better? They both have their merits and work in different environments; however, keep in mind, a collaborative effort often produces innovative results.

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About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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