Management as a True Calling
Management isn’t for everyone. If your talents are better suited to a another career don’t take on a management role for reasons of remuneration, titles, status and promoting self-esteem. To experience career satisfaction in management requires three elements: to see business as an intellectual puzzle, to influence others behaviours, to overcome conflict.

In the previous two articles we talked about the foundations for career success: One, that a successful career is not the goal of life but the means, albeit a critical means. Our life goal is to be the best version of ourselves we can be and in the process achieve personal happiness; in doing so we need to construct a satisfying career, identify our talents and put them to use. Second we talked about basic motivation: the drive to acquire, the drive to bond and the drive to know. And again career success will be optimized or maximized if we put ourselves into situations where all three of these drives are being satisfied.

Many people aspire to management because it seems the best vehicle to satisfy the drive to acquire through remuneration, titles, status and promoting self-esteem. But that is not a sufficient reason to seek a career in management. Management is not for everyone and there are other paths to career success.

There are in my view three over-arching elements that are prerequisite to having a satisfactory career in management, a career in which we feel fulfilled. One, to thrive in management you have to see business, whatever the ‘business’ is, as an intellectual challenge. Management is a key function in any organization to ensure its survival. The management of a business is itself a large puzzle. To feel success in a management career you need to see solving business problems as fun.

Second management is primarily a matter of dealing with people. The challenge of management is to get people to behave in ways that allow the organization to achieve its goals. For the most part this is a positive endeavour but if you find influencing others’ behaviour is difficult, manipulative, or even distasteful, management isn’t for you.

Third, Management is frequently a matter of dealing with conflict. People may resist aligning themselves or their actions with your organizations goals. Or there may be other factors at play which impedes their effectiveness – competence, health, problems at home, interpersonal conflict at work. All these negative behaviours have to be redirected by the diligent manager. The person who sees conflict as unpleasant or distasteful, who avoids dealing with it, is unsuited for a career in management. Instead the manager has to see the problems of dealing with people as individual challenges or puzzles. How can you as a manager create conditions under which the employee can be successful? And when you’ve tried every reasonable measure, termination is the only answer; an action not to be shirked. Managing people issues are necessary steps in managing the overall business.

In my coaching programs I often encourage my clients to see the management of people as intellectual puzzles to be figured out rather than personal problems felt too keenly. Not to make too fine a point of this, management of an enterprise is a game; each little problem is simply another move on the game board. One way or another the problem has to be solved so that the game can continue.

Management is a true calling when you realize that you are deploying your talents to the benefit of your organization and the people in it.

Are you engaged in the game of life? Is your job as a manager a game to be played and enjoyed? Or a burden that you carry?