You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of moving beyond a hunter-gatherer approach to your work-life – where all your attention is focused on moving from job to job – and taking a more long-term view of your career.
But if your career is a work in progress, sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself “Progress towards what?”
What about going into management? It’s one way to advance your career, but it’s not for everyone. Here are some ways to see if you’re the management type:
Do you want to be a star? If you do, don’t go into management. Management is about the art and craft of coordination, of helping other people do their best and reach successful conclusions. Good managers take blame and give away credit.
Is strategy one of your favorite things? If you loved playing the game of Risk as a kid, and you love thinking about sequences and influences as an adult, you might make a good manager. Managers need to be able to work in the present while remembering the past and trying to shape the future.
Do you want to be the center of attention? Then become a movie star and fall apart in public, but don’t be a manager. Managers are often found in the thick of things, but that’s because they’re trying to keep information, inputs and outcomes flowing where they need to go. When you’re motivated by the trappings of a position, you’re not likely to excel at the real work.
Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Then you might have the makings of a good manager. Managers need to see how all the pieces fit together. That could mean actual, tangible pieces when you’re working in delivery or construction, or the key players you need to assemble to move a project forward. Good managers thrive on finding ways to create a whole greater than the sum of its disparate parts.
Do you like to boss people around? If you do, forget about being a manager. Although we’ve all met our share of people who pursue positions of authority because they want to assert it over others (Remember those elementary school crossing guards who were way too fond of wearing their little badges? What do you think they grew up to be?), they don’t turn out to be good managers. Good managers usually exert authority as a last resort, and even then it’s to achieve specific ends, not to look tough.
Do you like being a know-it-all? A desire to know everything about everything can be a plus for a manager, because managers need to understand a lot about many different facets of their organization. The trick is to realize that while you know a little about a lot, you’re not necessarily an authority on anything, so you need to know when to call in the experts.
by Danielle Dresden