A Manager Should Act Like a Fullback

January 5th, 2013

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?

One thought on “A Manager Should Act Like a Fullback

  1. Kuz

    I like the fullback analogy. The obvious metaphor as “coach” is still appropriate, too. After each series, the running backs coach gives feedback to his players, showing them charts and photos about what happened when they made decisions, then coordinating them so they do better next time.

    Too often, managers think “coaching” must mean being an expert. Nope. Coaches just need to encourage better performance.

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