Quite the contrary to the common belief, team's productivity is NOT just a simple sum of team member's potentials. Many want to believe that because it so easily translates into mandays & fits the capacity VS estimates matching game. Though it never really works this way.
Morale, team's inner "chemistry", synergy between different team members, overall team's confidence, sharing the same vision, empowerment level, ownership & responsibility, the level of understanding of status quo, sense of work's purpose, sense of fair, respectful & honest treatment, confidence in leadership, ability to place team (& its work) within a big picture, self-determination "margin", "secure tomorrow" ... I've seen all of these factors absolutely crashing team's "causative power" (ability to create something) or quite the contrary - letting team truly shine as it never did before.
I'm not exaggerating - people are not machines, their productivity is not granted & it's not a simple resultant of competence, diligence & motivation.
All of the factors mentioned above share few, unpleasant characteristics:
- you can break them within minutes
- maintaining a healthy state takes a lot of effort
- rebuilding them may take months or in some cases may not even be possible
- there's no simple 0/1 indicator that will let you know about the troubles ahead
One of the key manager's duty is ...
- making sure that 1st doesn't happen, ...
- ... 2nd (or 3rd if needed) takes place continuously ...
- ... and monitoring the situation pro-actively to compensate the nuisance of 4th
Working with managers who realize this & turn these principles into action is a pleasure, regardless of their methods to achieve the result.
- some are merito-kings -> true mentors & coaches who help people develop themselves & expand knowledge.
- some are visionaries -> they can create an idea worth striving to (fighting for).
- some are just known to be very successful -> that boosts people's the confidence in the direction they follow.
- some are terrific organizers -> they excel in making people co-operate like one machine's cogs
- some are awesome team players -> engage others & make them feel like important part of whatever's being done
- some have a unique ability to create a good atmosphere -> their positive approach, ice-breaking & directness make people cooperate more eagerly
Each of those approaches may bring the same final effect. All of them require different skills & majority of these are so called "soft skills" - that's why manager's value is not that simple to evaluate & does not result basically from business domain / development-related capabilities.
Unfortunately - there are many who don't care / realize that at all, especially the ones who have advanced to their level from technical role.