In it together: When your manager is your greatest advocate

In it together: When your manager is your greatest advocate

In an open organization, the best kind of manager is the one that sets context and empowers others to do their best work.

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Photo by Jen Wike Huger
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For this installment of the "Managing with Open Values" series, we met again with Allison Matlack, an Open Organization Ambassador, to discuss her experiences using open values to manage her team by empowering individuals and creating partnerships, so everyone can feel accountable for their work.

Allison's unique perspective on management stems from a passionate focus on empowerment and using guidelines and accountability systems to help her team connect to their own intrinsic motivation. In fact, a few years ago, Allison and I were part of a group of associates trying to support and advance the concept of empowerment in our organization. As a specific open management practice, empowerment is important for her and her team, specifically because the nature of their work varies so much—each person needs to be able to make decisions about their work within specific guidelines.

The best kind of open source manager is an advocate-manager who sets the context, opens doors, ensures training and resources are available, and champions the career of the associate.

Using this technique means that the manager is not a “boss” but a partner, someone who provides guidelines, but then provides associates freedom within those guidelines. In fact, the best kind of open source manager, according to Allison, is an advocate-manager who sets the context, opens doors, ensures training and resources are available, and champions the career of the associate. They also provide safe situations in which their team can practice new skills or find opportunities to try out alternative roles. This kind of empowerment also applies to Allison herself, as she gets support and guidance from her leadership team to navigate her own responsibilities and role as a manager.

In the the interview, you'll also hear Allison brainstorm on:

  • How she wants to model her managerial style on a advocate-manager model and why
  • Empowerment as the result of managing with open values and inspiring team members to have freedom to work while considering the
    • context of the team (recorded in the charter),
    • scope (of role), and
    • business objectives (of organization and team)
  • The way her leadership team empowers her in her manager role
  • Tips on how to onboard remotely that help to empower new team members

Listen to the interview with Allison Matlack

Read the series

Doodles of the word open

How can open principles help us rethink conventional management practices? This interview series explores that question—and more.

About the author

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Heidi Hess von Ludewig - Heidi Hess von Ludewig researches networked workplace creativity from the systems perspective, which means that she examines the relationships of multiple elements within the workplace that influence how individuals and groups perform innovative and creative work. She spent over fifteen years in the software industry performing a variety of roles, from developer to analyst, for Fortune 500 companies before receiving her PhD from North Carolina State University in 2014. Her research informs the...

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