People don't leave jobs, they leave bosses

I've often wondered if the familiar saying is true or if it's just an old wives' tale:

"People don't leave jobs, they leave bosses."

After speaking to business owners and executives, I’ve come to learn there are generally two ways managers become managers with responsibility over people.

Most often, people become managers because they are technically proficient—they know how to do their job better than anybody else. In some cases, they become managers because they have seniority—they have been around longer than anybody else.

Neither of these—proficiency or seniority—has anything to do with one's ability to manage people.

But here they are, responsible for a team of people, and they don't know what to do, how to lead. Very likely, they are too embarrassed to admit that they have no idea what they are doing. And they are too busy trying to get real work done to care. So, they muddle through.

But is that enough? Is that what you want for your company? Managers that just muddle through?

Being a boss—being a manager of people, is not innate. It’s not like breathing, something we do automatically when we’re born; or walking, once we learn the skill as children, we’re set for life. No, being a boss—being a people manager—is like dancing or golf. Anyone can be a hack. But to be good, to be effective, there are techniques that must be learned and skills that must be practiced.