Saturday, March 16, 2019

Management is a noble profession

I recently listened to the 'Play to Potential' podcast, in which Deepak Jayaraman hosted Suresh Narayanan, the Chairman and MD of Nestle India.

Among many things that they discussed, one of the questions Deepak asked Suresh was his advise to younger generation that is joining the workspace. Deepak shared these 5 points:

1. Work to your strengths.
2. Work with commitment. Work with passion.
3. Don't keep looking across your shoulder (don't compare). When you take away the fear of being as good as someone else, you become successful. In a world of diverging paths, it doesn't make sense to compare with how your peers are doing or your cohort at work.

4. Have courage to speak up or speak out, especially when things are going wrong.
5. Work for your people- I succeed because of strength and competence of people around me, irrespective of the size of organization. If you take care of your people, they take care of you.
These are all actionable and well-intentioned points. The last one, especially caught my attention. It reminded me of what i read in Clayton Christensen's book, How Will You Measure Your Life?,  here goes a specific text:
Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.

Of all the adjectives used to describe the profession of management, "noble" is very underused and refreshing. If we look at the job description of a typical manager role, it consists of myriad responsibilities. A manager in a typical day handles things that are complex and equivalent to a high volume of work.
One of the typical responsibilities that makes a management job special is the ability to coach and mentor others to bring a lasting change to the organization and the work lives of the people. Much like parents cannot simply pass the responsibility of raising their kids on to someone else, managers should not delegate development of the people for whom they are directly responsible. Good managers tend to become restless if they don't feel that people for whom they are responsible are growing and learning each day on the job.
A host of leaders and CEOs featured in Corner Office space at brilliantly acknowledge the role mentors played in helping them reach the pinnacle of success.
Larry Bossidy, former CEO of AlliedSignal, once said, "At the end of the day, you bet on people, not strategies.” Managers are the people with the special role that encourages people to work and play to their highest potential. Management as a profession becomes noble only if managers demonstrate the willingness to take their role a step further by committing to creating memorable experiences for their employees.
Leaders create value; managers count value. Leaders exercise influence; managers exercise power. Leaders inspire and motivate; managers simply plan, organize, and coordinate.
Many articles that explore the differences between leadership and management are written in a way that undermines the importance of managers, while projecting leadership as the superior of the two. 
I, for one, believe that management, if practiced well, is a noble profession and gets much less credit for its existence than it deserves.
What do you think ?
In this article, I have reproduced some of the text from my own article at
Image source:,204,203,200_.jpg

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