My first job was behind the bar in a country hotel.
My boss was very proud of being able to do any job in the place – he could join me serving food & drinks, he could and did make up the rooms, cover shifts in the kitchen, wether as chef or washer up and he’d drive the minibus to take regular customer home after a long and enjoyable evening. If anyone was off sick he would step in without fuss.
That ethos stuck with me for a long time – that the manager should be able to step in and do the job of anyone they are responsible for.
It was many years later that I found myself working in a team where all of us had amassed a great deal of technical knowledge in our respective areas of expertise. We had been hired as trainers based on our prior professional experience.
After one leadership restructure, we noticed our new manager couldn’t do any of our roles. Not one.
And they were great.
Supportive, challenging and focused on our development and our results but they couldn’t do what we did. Yet it wasn’t significant.
Understanding the people and the roles of those you are responsible for is vital. Being able to do their job is not.