the 8 types of managers

I recently heard someone referred to as a “seagull manager”, a term Ken Blanchard coined in 1985: “seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, then fly out.”

This conversation prompted a discussion on bad managers of all stripes. Everyone at the table had a top-of-mind example. I grouped some of the most common offenders into this cartoon.

If bad management is so readily visible, why are their so many culprits? Part of it I think is that many managers are oblivious to their impact on others. One of my friends quit a job specifically because of an abusive manager, and that manager not only showed up to her going-away party, he tried to friend her on LinkedIn and even asked for a reference later on. He was completely oblivious to the perception that others had of him, even though he was ultimately fired because of the number of abuse complaints against him.

It reminds me of that old expression, “confidence without competence is arrogance.” Many managers achieve positions of leadership and don’t recognize that leading a team is something they might not innately know how to do. They don’t recognize that they haven’t gained competence.

Mug The truth is that leading teams is incredibly hard. Very few are naturally good at it. It takes humility and continuous practice to get better. It’s an exercise of progress, not perfection. One of my friends took a new position and gave each member of his team the coffee mug on the right.  A self-deprecating attitude is a good place to start.

This cartoon is latest I’ve drawn in a series of “8 types” cartoons: creative directors, creative critics, retail buyers, and brand managers.

  1. Tom Fishburne says

    Yes, thanks! I hate when I misspell in a cartoon. There’s no spell check when it’s hand-drawn unfortunately. Just fixed it!

  2. says

    Love this cartoon, I was a manager for 20 years and it can be a thankless task sometimes. When I retired 120 people turned up at my leaving do, I like to think it was a sign of popularity rather than celebrating getting rid of me. Started a new job with my brother-in-law, he’s the boss, and your description of a seagull manager is so apt it’s frightening.

  3. Srinivas says

    Ha ha :) I loved this… there’s more i have come across…
    The Storyteller: Feels every minute non-event in his life has deep significance for the current challenges facing the company
    The cat on the wall: What just happened was what he always knew was going to happen, even though he never mentioned it earlier
    The grave silent one: You are supposed to read meaning into every twitch and eye movement… and of course he can never get in trouble for what he didnt say, right?
    The minutes-keeper: knows exactly what everyone spoke at every moment of every meeting… and carefully summarises and reclarifies, in the process boring everyone to death

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *