It may seem like an obvious, or even useless question, but knowing your answer can make a big difference the next time you consider an opportunity. Evening defining strong and weak can be difficult because we all see it differently, but here is my take:
- Strong: Gets the concepts, asks good questions, takes care of the team, holds team and other teams accountable, confident, gets into the details only when needed
- Weak: May be weak on concepts (or the alpha geek), lets others abuse the team, tends to only hold the good workers accountable, either lives in details or is very high level only, take credit for wins only
In practice it's not quite that easy to define, yet in the space of a week I can tell you easily how to categorize any manager I work with (and their manager as well). You adapt to their style and strengths and weaknesses as best you can, sometimes you just look for the nearest exit!
My preference is to always work for a strong manager. The work is clearer, everyone is accountable, and there is usually a good sense of direction and culture. With weaker managers the team tends to get pushed and pulled by whoever has the strongest voice on the team - which isn't always the best voice to listen to.
You can look a little deeper and intuit more about the company by how many strong and weak leaders you see. There are always going to be new and inexperienced managers that are weak in some areas, but are they being held accountable, are they working for a strong leader? Two or more weak managers in the chain are a big warning sign for me. The challenge? You can't usually evaluate that until after you take the job.
What's your preference? Do you prefer a strong leader or a weak one, and why?