If you can't engage at the level of the actual work to be done you can't spot errors, can't teach / coach, are unlikely to have specific nuanced creative ideas at the level of the work, and will find it hard to gain the respect of those who are excellent.
The culture & ethos of our company is that the most senior people are all excellent managers in addition to being truly excellent at their specialty (product management, marketing, engineering, etc)… not instead of.
Your manager doesn’t do the same thing you do day-to-day, but could in a heartbeat, and he or she would be great at it (and often does do it from time to time, to keep their skills sharp).
I’m often reminded of this passage from the Washington Post:
Then, on the pier near the stern of the USNS Bob Hope, the 50-year-old Petraeus gets into a bantering exchange with a 19-year-old private first class. One thing leads to another and the commanding general challenges the soldier to a push-up contest. Both men drop to the pavement. Four, five, six . . . 10, 11, 12.
Neck veins bulge. Eighteen, 19, 20. The young soldier gasps and collapses after 27. Petraeus does 20 more, eyes locked on his opponent, and pops to his feet without breaking a sweat. "You can write that off on your income tax as part of your education," he says with a smile, and stalks off to hooah another platoon.
Let’s make sure we keep this in mind as we interview, especially managers.
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