My Manager Journey From Needing Approval To Fairness

At one point in my career, I received a promotion to a new position that was a big leap and wonderful opportunity for me. I would be managing 45 people in a division that brought three previously separate offices together as one. It was a high profile division, where my decisions would be scrutinized and my actions as a manager would have wider, and more public, impact than in any position I held before.

In my previous managerial positions, one thing that was a bit of an Achilles heel for me was that I brought a need for the approval of others into my work. The roots of this need went back to my childhood, but had no place in my work. This manifested in my not always providing the leadership those who worked for me deserved and in my avoiding conflict, sometimes to the detriment of getting things done.

As I accepted this new position, I knew my need for approval had to go. I was on a bigger stage, would be making difficult decisions and had to perform. What would replace my need for approval? I did not want to be what we now call a bully boss. I wanted to treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve. I settled on fairness – I would be very clear in my expectations, would explain decisions that affected the team, would handle controversy or unpopular decisions with as much fairness as possible and would do my very best to respect everyone who worked with me.

It worked. My need for others’ approval was replaced with a focus on leadership, collaboration and managing with fairness. The biggest difference for me was that my neediness was gone. It was very freeing. I accepted my role as a manager as a positive one and thrived.


photo:  Stuart Miles,