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Perhaps the right answer is situational.

First off, both of these simplified projections put the manager first. That’s not optimal. The team, and more importantly, the team’s (or business’) goals need to come first.

Second off, it’s the manager’s job to divide the work needed to meet the team’s goal among the team’s members. Each team member needs to have clarity on their goals, and how what they’re doing fits within the team. Edit: some situations are more fluid than others, where tasks or crises are load balanced between team members day to day, while in other situations roles and responsibilities are more static. Same principle applies: everyone needs to know what to focus their attention on delivering.

Third off, what is described here is the employee’s perception of what’s happening. The same manager, at the same time, can be perceived by one person on their team as a “Moses” and by another as a “Monster”. I was never a good enough leader to be seen as a “Moses” type, but any underperformer on my various teams over the years probably saw me as “Monster”.

Lastly, there’s a cultural element to this which is worth noting. In my first 5 years as a manager of R&D engineers, I hosted employees from our sister teams in Mexico and France. Talking with Manuel helped me understand a cultural divide between workers and managers in Mexico — kind of like the divide between officers and enlisted men in the military — which is simply different than the U.S. Manuel was laughing when he accused me of being a whip cracking slave driver one day after I pointed out to the team that we had a deliverable with a deadline coming up, and needed to meet it. One of our program managers gave me a bullwhip at the release celebration of that product, in honor of Manuel’s comment that day. I suspect Pierre thought me weak as a manager for exposing to the team the ongoing decision making process with upper management on our project, rather than presenting the current plan as stable and focusing on its execution. It was interesting that a few years later one of my capable but lower performing engineers was in turn hosted by that team in France: he was given clear tactical goals requiring knowledge he had, executed well, and was far better regarded by the managers in France than by us here in the U.S.

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