Management Potential

Most of us (and I really do mean most) have no right and no business being managers. We have no right and no business being leaders, at scale.

Most of us can barely put two socks of the same color on in the morning; and then we head to the office and are expected (and expect of ourselves) that we’re going to be able to deftly lead other people’s lives.

I find that deeply ironic and disturbing.

Dilbert: Speaking truth to power.

It’s taken years for me to reverse course from what I psychologically born into: That management was the only real and legitimate goal in your professional career and that you start as an Individual Contributor and/or SME (“Subject Matter Expert”) and then graduate.

The “graduation” part is what eventually tripped me up the most as I didn’t want to graduate from anything. I’ve been very happy to serve in the smaller ways, very happy and have found great fulfillment in keeping the “management” small.

And it took me a long time to learn that leadership doesn’t require management at all. In fact, leadership is entirely independent from management, especially the more obvious ones.

Now, when I meet folks who zealously desire management roles I almost immediately feel like they’ve disqualified themselves. They don’t fundamentally understand how ridiculously hard and difficult that is. And they probably haven’t been led very well or long-enough to know.

The answer to poor leadership and management in your own life isn’t to try to become one yourself. How will you lead when your only example is dysfunction? How will you manage if your only model is in gross deficit?

And, finally, there’s no ‘race’ here to the top. Those that are racing have gotten it so twisted they do themselves a grave disservice. We’ve become a society so focused on leading at scale as the ultimate test of professional success that we’re swamped with poor performance and very little to show for it.

Keep it simple. Stay humble. Let the leadership opportunities, and management especially, come organically… naturally. And they will, when the time is right.


Also published on Medium.