The fundamental choice for managers

Having a coffee with a friend the other day when the topic of managing people came up. We all agreed that it was one of the most challenging roles yet fulfilling roles, when done well. There are a lot of factors and choices that go into managing people well, such as the structure and culture of the organisation, the characteristics of the people you manage, the span of control you have, your level of competency, etc. However, all of these factors pale into insignificance if you haven’t made the fundamental choice.

The fundamental choice that all managers need to decide is, “Do I want to manage people?”, “Is this what matters to me?” If you can’t say yes to these two questions you may want to rethink what you are doing. The reason you need to make this fundamental choice is because convenience, ease, relief and immediate payoffs, the qualities that often evade a business manager, are not ever an issue if you always take action consistent with your fundamental choice.

I have noticed time and again that managers are promoted largely on the basis of their technical expertise and ambition to rise through the hierarchy, not necessarily on their ability to bring out the best in the people they manage and get the outcomes consistent with that. When managers are aligned to a fundamental choice about wanting to managing people well, their focus, attention and energy is directed towards that, Equally, the vision of what they want to create with a team is so much more powerful and can be articulated clearly and with agreement.

This way, managers bring their own satisfaction and success to the circumstances in which they are involved. Equally as important, the frustration and discomfort that sometimes comes with managing people and different personality types no longer takes up as much energy, time and focus.

For an excellent read on the role of fundamental choices, you might like “Path of Least Resistance”, by Robert Fritz.

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