I generally don’t like to share advice on my blog. I think that without understanding a person’s unique perspective or a company’s specific situation, advice is probably one of the lowest tiers that one can get on in terms of a consulting relationship. Thus, my blog posts should be viewed as perspectives.
All said, I know there are a number of younger readers of this blog – some of them just starting their careers. This post may be one of the closest things to advice that I am comfortable offering. It is this:
When considering working for a manager, a supportive manager may outweigh all other factors in career advancement and personal growth.
It is a somewhat unusual and reactive position for me to take. A proactive position would advocate taking active control of one’s career and to work with whatever manager you have to try to determine the best way to achieve personal and professional growth. By all means be proactive. Try to get to the working environment you want to work in. Be proactive. Always. Always. But I have seen star performers working in sexy areas that have not progressed very far because they underestimated the importance of having a supportive manager. I have seen star performers that worked for supportive managers get switched over to non-supportive managers who were rising rock stars and literally forced out of firms. I have seen non-star performers work for supportive managers in non-sexy areas and get uplifted by orders of magnitude from the experience. I have seen this effect in client organizations. With business partners. With myself. With friends. With my wife.
Do I have reputable research data to back my perspective? Can’t think of any rigorous research offhand. Maybe there is some. I’m sure there is also disconfirming evidence to my perspective too.
Thus, I’ll revise my initial statement. I suppose my real takeaway is this:
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a supportive manager (or partner).
And this takeaway doesn’t apply just to newbies. I think about this everyday, and it is something I weigh very heavily (even when advising my wife on career choices, weighing business partners, etc.).