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A Lonely, Joyful Road: Management as a Calling

Workgroup Report: Why should someone become a manager?

Most people begin their management careers by accident and then spend a lifetime learning about people and things and themselves.  Good managers are rarely appreciated.  Like teachers, the joy found in other’s successes is deep and lasting.  Like teaching, management is a calling.

Topic question:  Why should a young manager consider a career in management?

Discussion questions

  • Who inspired you to be a manager?
  • Have the rewards of being a manager changed for you over the years?
  • Is being a manager as respected as it should be?

Contributors

  • Bob DeVita
  • Susan Dineen
  • Patti Epstein
  • Kevin Hickman
  • Bryon Johnson
  • Bill Mitchell
  • Tim Stewart
  • Kristi Thering
  • Carolyn Tretina
  • Derrick Van Mell

What is a manager?
I did what was mine to do.  Pray may you find out what is yours.”  - Saint Francis of Assisi             

  • A manager is someone who helps people work together.  A leader is someone who inspire people to take a risk.  Almost all managers are also leaders and vice versa.
  • To clarify roles, it helps to put the manager’s and the employee’s job descriptions side by side
  • Good managers tend to believe the best of people, in their innate compassion and goodness
  • A manager keeps people safe, makes the feel appreciated and gives them work to be proud of

 Who inspired you to be a manager?
“Some men are born great.  Others have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” - Shakespeare

  • Most were “negatively inspired” by a bad manager: that made them want to be a good boss
  • Most were forced to be a manager, yet given little or no instruction
  • Were introduced to management early: in school, summer jobs, sports, the military or family business
  • Also in common:  someone spotted an inherent ability in us
  • Some tried to avoid being a manager, many left management positions for years
  • Still, most did feel the “call” of management

Have the rewards of being a manager changed for you over the years?
“Execution is the chariot of greatness”  - William Blake

  • Good managers are rarely appreciated or thanked: they need to find their own rewards
  • Universally, the reward-the joy—was seeing other people grow and succeed
  • Managing is teaching and has similar reward
  • Is managing a spiritual practice?  Perhaps, but it’s certainly a way to develop oneself personally
  • A good manager learns to see people as individuals, a great life lesson
  • An indicator of success is when the employees no longer need you
  • For a chief executive, the reward is making and leaving the organization safe and healthy
  • Good managers can enjoy being life-long learner

Is being a manager as respected as it should be?
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

  • No.  Why?
  • For some reason, people think it’s easy to be a manager
  • Leaders and innovations get a lot of attention, within organization and the press
  • Managers get things done, but that doesn’t get much attention, either
  • Good managers keep a low profile, so don’t get recognized
  • Management is always ambiguous, so it’s hard to measure directly
  • Good managers should be generous in their praise—and we should praise them, too.
  • Perhaps STEM earns respect today, instead of the “softer” skills of a manager

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The Center for Management Terms & Practices is the standards body for general management.  We create and support succession plans so everyone can grow and succeed.  Our mission:  Help people achieve great things together. See The GMs Index and The GMs Toolkit for the standard terms, tools and best practices.

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