Just because someone works in a company longer than the rest members of the team; or someone can speak louder and rub shoulder; or someone has a better pay: Hence he is appointed as a manager. Does it sound familiar?
This practice is not just misleading, worst, it's destructive! A fine recipe for creating emotional and moral decline.
A few years ago, my big brother had cancer (thanks God he survived). His strength and energy were declining rapidly from day to day despite the treatment he went through and the medication he took. One of my sisters, out of her fear of losing him, asked: "How come that you are not getting stronger". "Do you want to be strong?" Replied my brother calmly, "stick a Samson image on your forehead!" This, of course, made us laugh!
Like my funny brother who could only imagine being strong by suggesting a Samson sticker on his forehead, being a manager isn't just having a "title" that is sticked on someone's forehead to let people around him know that he now belongs to the corporate rank of importance.
So, what makes a manager? Are there any certain characteristics required?
Perhaps, another leading question should be asked first is: What does a corporation require of its managers?
Peter Drucker, whom Jack Welch considered as the greatest management thinker of the last century, describes that a manager has two specific tasks. First, creating output: a collective result as a true whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. Second, taking actions and making decisions concerning the corporate's immediate and long-range future requirements, and harmonizing them.
Drucker compares a manager with the conductor of a symphony orchestra, under whose directions and leadership individual instrumental parts when played together become the living whole of music. Although Drucker also points out that the conductor has the composer's score, hence he is only interpreter. But the manager is both composer and conductor.
In that case, to be a manager, does it require genius, or at least a special talent?
Again, Peter Drucker, in his classic management book titled The Practice of Management, answers: "No". He then explains that what a manager has to be able to do can be learned; though not always can be taught. Yet there is one quality that cannot be learned; a qualification that a manager cannot even acquire but must bring with him: It is character.
Among excellent skills that a manager could learn and acquire, skills that magnify a manager's character* are: the ability to show concern and consideration for others, inspire and motivate others, be decisive, focus on results, be assertive. Above all he must be a man of honesty and integrity. If any one of these values is missing, the harmony of the corporation is at stake.
Remember the fall of great business empire such as a Texas-based America's most innovative company, Enron Corporation and the oldest merchant bank in Britain, Baring Securities? How did they collapse? Corruption, fraud and forgery scandal! It was the deliberate abortion of the most precious character: Honesty and integrity!
What makes a manager, then? First and foremost, it is character. And the essential skill that a manager must have according to Drucker is communication: How to get his thinking across to others, and also how to find out what others are after. Finally he concludes "without the ability to motivate by means of the written and spoken word or telling number, a manager cannot be successful."
*Making Yourself Dispensable by J.H. Zenger, J.R. Folkman, and S.K Edinger, October 2011 Harvard Business Review, page 85
Note: Image used in this post is contributed by Melissa Mu Photography.