One of the great business myths is that once you are “the boss” you have more control and more time to do the things you want to do rather than the things you are told to do. Your perception is that you likely would do a much better job than your current boss and can’t wait to get the role and “show everybody”!
Even as the owner of my own company I am governed by many “bosses” … clients, deadlines, employee needs etc. It is my experience that the further up the chain you go the less autonomy you really have. Sure you get to set the priorities, and yes you can “get away” with more, in the sense that there is nobody who can chastise you for not doing your job. The reality is that “responsibility” is a much harder taskmaster than any boss, and if you really want to be successful you cannot ignore your responsibilities.
There are many days when I plan to get some of the paperwork off my plate, and some of the ongoing responsibilities done but it doesn’t happen because of other priorities. As “the boss” I can’t ignore the needs of my clients or my staff, so consequently it is my priorities that suffer.
Have you ever wondered why the boss is putting in long hours, or working evenings and weekends? Did you think about that when you decided you really, really want a management role?
I can remember my own perceptions as a salesperson that it was us who did all the work, the sales manager just sat in his office and pushed paper, whilst going on the odd call and directing the effort! It was quite the shock when I realised just how far off the mark I was! I also had an unrealistic perception of my own capabilities as a manager … it does not come easy and it certainly is not an overnight thing for most of us!
“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” Peter F. Drucker
I certainly don’t regret my decision to move into management but then again I have always been willing to put in whatever effort is needed, but for some people it is a big shock to learn that management roles are not cushy!
If you are at that point where you are good at what you do, and looking for a move to management I would suggest that you make sure you arrive with your eyes open. Talk to people who do the job and understand what it really means before jumping in. Make sure that you are not going to give up a job you really enjoy just because you think you should be “moving up the ladder”! These days careers are very different than 20 years ago, companies are flatter and experts are in big demand. Become an “expert” at what you do, then you have a world of options!
“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” Robert Frost
Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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