A common question I hear is what makes a good manager. There have been countless studies on this subject, and some good theories on specific pieces of management, such as situational leadership and being a shit umbrella. While both of those approaches are great, lately, I’ve been thinking that a manager is like a fullback.
For those that aren’t familiar with the player in football, a fullback is an offensive player who is primarily a blocker for running plays. On running plays, the offensive line opens a hole for the running back. The defense tries to close that hole by running into the hole. What a fullback does is go through the hole before the running back and pushes everyone out of the way so the running back can get through and and make a big play. If things go well, all you see if a running back running into the endzone without even being touched. The fullback is a crucial, but under-appreciated position in football because all attention is given to the person making the big play. But, in front of almost every great rusher there was been a fullback clearing a path for them.
So what a manager should do is learn about an opportunity from a star employee and clear a path organizationally for that employee to seize that opportunity for the company. The manager could come out a little bruised, but the employee hopefully scored a touchdown for the company.
Anyone else have any good analogs to management?