Truly great managers are rare.
They're constantly developing ways to improve the business (and themselves). They have a fire burning inside to make things better because they're aspiring for excellence, not mediocrity.
They're creative in their problem solving. They have a knack for identifying the right problems and they approach solving them with an open mind, a willingness to try new things, and an appetite for intelligently calculated risk.
They have the courage to take ownership of the challenges they face. If there’s a conflict within their team, they address it. If a process is broken, they fix it. Instead of observing problems, they solve them. And they don’t waste time blaming others.
They're honest with themselves, understanding both their strengths and their weaknesses. They think big. They act with the best interest of the business in mind. And they're more than another cog in the machine.
Truly great managers are many things, and they're hard to come by.
However, great managers are often limited by a lack of empowerment from managers that are smaller than they are. Smaller managers defer to the bureaucracy because it’s safe. And safety provides certainty that nothing terrible will occur. It also provides certainty that nothing great will occur either.
If you want to kill the drive and determination of a great manager that's trying to push the business forward, put her under the direction of a shitty manager. Give her a manager that measures process over results, micromanages, instills a fear of failure, and does things a certain way because, well, that's the way they've always been done.
And watch the fire inside that fuels her drive smolder out.
Great managers need to be with great managers. Shitty ones shouldn't be in your business. Period. But if you must keep them around, for some political reason beyond your control, don't let them suffocate the fire and determination of great managers. Mixing and matching the caliber of managers hurts your most talented ones more than it helps the shitty ones.
If you want great managers to stick around your business, give them the leadership of other great managers. This keeps the fire burning and, more often than not, increases its intensity, which could have exponential results for your business.