On Becoming a Manager

Free Will or Predestination?

One of the most memorable quotes I’ve ever come across in terms of organisations is one from Peter Drucker who observed that “Organisations form and deform people.” This quote terrified me at first because I realised immediately that that could become my fate (or it was already too late). This thought, in turn, reminded me of the lengthy university literature debates we had on “free will vs predestination” (based on my term in 18th century French literature).

Eventually, my mind came back with a reply in response to Drucker’s remark and it’s been one of my guiding principles as a coach ever since. Just as it takes two to tango, the flip side of Drucker’s coin is this: “People allow themselves to be formed and deformed.”

With great power comes great responsibility

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being passionate about what you do. This is especially important when it comes to managing people. It’s crucial that you care about people enough to create Win-Win situations because that’s your job as a manager.

Being a manager is about nurture not punishment. It’s about bringing the best out of people. It’s about learning to care for others as much as for yourself. You only have listen to the language a manager uses to identify which school of management they graduated from.

It’s also equally important to be sufficiently self-aware to know when you care too much. The danger of feeling too much could compromise your judgment and effectiveness.

The Power of Being Human

In the words of Uncle Ben of Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”. All too often, we become so focused on personal gain that we forget our true purpose. Although we like to think ourselves brave and daring, we are secretly afraid of looking in the mirror our people hold up in front of us every time we interact with them.

The days of employing rudimentary techniques such as “carrot-and-stick” to create “successful” organisations are disappearing. How would you like to be treated like a donkey? When was the last time you read up on the latest people management techniques and applied them? How often do you ask your direct reports for open feedback? What improvement actions do you take and track to close the feedback loop? What do you do to become better today than you were yesterday every day?

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