Why do you want to become a Manager?

I see a lot of people who say they want to become managers, which is a good goal to have no doubt. But when I ask them why, most of the answers hover around more money and a better status symbol. Well, honestly, I don’t think we need to be managers for either. M.K.Gandhi was not a manager, but I guess he had both. So did Martin Luther King Jr, and the list can go on.

So for people who really want to be Managers for the above two reasons, here are some of the “harder things” nobody talks about:

  • Being a manager is a thankless job. All results you produce, is neither sufficient for the team nor your supervisors, and honestly, you too. Are you open to criticism? (Please note the usage of the word “criticism” over “feedback”).
  • The chances of failure are much more than the chances of success in our ventures. Are you prepared to take it in your stride?
  • We need to quantify our instincts to sell our point, again both to the team and our supervisors. Are you prepared to sit and work out formulas for the same?
  • Honestly, being a manager is hard work and can make one feel lonely. Are you prepared to deal with it?

I can go on, but I don’t want to convey a feeling that being a manager is a bad thing, and not a good goal to have. So, to remove any such impressions, here are the good things about being a manager:

  • We honestly have a responsibility over the direction the organization must take and no longer get to do what the boss says. It’s all about how we use it.
  • We have the liberty to promote or at least present in a positive light people who have the urge to perform and grow. Again, it’s about how we use it.
  • It is definitely more responsibility towards all the stakeholders and hence, increases our personal brand equity.
  • We will have the liberty to test our pet projects and ideas. But please see points 2, 3 from the previous list.

So a good question to ask ourselves could be, Why should I become a manager? Is being a manager my goal or my perception of a way to achieve my larger goals? Who knows, the right answers to these questions can even make one think being a manager is not the solution, and also help us arrive at better ways to achieve our goals!!!

The key then could be, WHAT IS OUR GOAL/AMBITION? More on that in the next post.

PS: I know this is a very sensitive subject and will like some honest feedback on my thoughts. I could pretty well be wrong, and like to know what you feel about this.

23 Responses to Why do you want to become a Manager?

  1. Thanks for an interesting post, Lakshman. It is an eye opener for aspiring professionals who want to become a manager. As you rightly mentioned, majority of professionals wish to become a manager with false assumptions that they can mint loads of money and fame. Only after taking over the responsibilities as a manager, they realize the real challenges in being an effective manager of projects and people. Its high time, every professional identify his or her own individuality and passion. The corporate world requires mentors and leaders like you who can help people identify and enrich their project and people management skills. I am sure all your upcoming posts will include such tips. Thanks again for an informative post, Lakshman.

    • Lakshman says:

      Thanks Satish, as I mentioned, I could well be wrong and would like some more thoughts on why I’m. As you rightly pointed out, what will help is finding our true “calling”. BTW, I’m still searching for mine 🙂

  2. Ebenezer says:

    A goal of becoming a manager is similar to the goal of becoming a better father. Many children feel and do one thing I will not do the things my parents did and my child will be brought up better. This is exactly a goal some carry cos becoming a manager to some come with relevant exposure to their work. Why become a manager??? or why achieve my goal???? neat questions, Achieve and over achieve the goals set by your organization and get ready to become a manager. Have a drive to be the change prove it with you and you will become a manager. A manager is just a designation. All that I would like to say is Work towards what makes you feel good — you can reach your goal, I you can work towards what others can feel good about — you can become a good manager. 🙂

    • Lakshman says:

      Thanks for the comments Ebe. One thing I believe in, you cant work towards what we or others “feel” good about. We can only work towards things that are right and takes us to the next level, based on some principles – which dont deviate natural laws.

  3. Aswin says:

    As you said, managing is a thankless job. On one side, you have to fulfill the expectations of your employees and on the other side you have to also handle the consistent pressure from the management. Many times, managers try their best and fail in living up to the expectations of both sides. So you gotta respect most managers for their thankless service to the company.

    BUT on the other end, while we do have good and honest managers receptive to feedback, we also have BAD Managers who take the side of the management. They go hand in glove with the Top Management, care a damn about their subordinates and only try to achieve their own goals.

    According to me, a Good Manager must be a neutral guy(Be a bridge between the employees and management), work towards achieving the goals of the company, put forth efforts and plans to ensure the professional growth of his/her subordinates and be OPEN TO 360 DEGREE FEEDBACK.

    But the question is, how many managers meet the criteria mentioned above??

  4. […] Over at Learning Curves, Lakshman Rajagopalan asks the tough (but necessary) questions of prospective managers in Why do you want to become a Manager? […]

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  6. Rahul says:

    I don’t agree with you at all, In my 10 year of career in IT I observed following.
    1) If something goes well, all the credit goes to Manager for managing and planning it well
    2) If something goes wrong, its the developer who didn’t code it properly or the QE who did not caught the bug
    3) Even if a developer got some great idea, its his manager who forwards it to the upper management and gets all the visibility. And In many cases I have seem the manager to take the credit of mentoring the developer for finding that solution/idea.

    And regarding “I don’t think we need to be managers for either. M.K.Gandhi was not a manager, but I guess he had both. So did Martin Luther King Jr, and the list can go on.”

    How many such people are there? And how many managers are there who have money and status? So the bottomline is “Becomeing a Manager is easy money” and there are lots of oppertunities to grow as well.

  7. What genuinely inspired you to post “Why do you want to become a Manager?
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    post! Regards -Gustavo

    • Lakshman says:

      Hi, What genuienly inspired me? Its the many people who had a mis conception of what managers do for a living. And a false notion of power… ive been a manager at various levels for about 10 years now and I was amazed at how people thouht about power despite working for someone else/a system they didnt create.

  8. Hello, yup this article is in fact pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging.


  9. pity-2013.eu says:

    Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I
    guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for beginner blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • Lakshman says:

      Hi, Considering I have only 26 posts, I think I quality as beginner too. Few things I have in mind are, post only when there is an idea, keep it simple and short, and if possible, talk more about facts than perceptions.

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