What is a Manager?

When most people first move into the role as a manager in the not-for profit sector, they do so with the intent of making a difference in the lives of people who rely on their organization for support, rarely from a personal disposition to boss or control people – The Manager’s Corner is for the former, not the latter.  New managers are often drawn from the frontline – people who have been doing the work of the organization.  They may be drawn or be persuaded to take on responsibility in a manager role owing to their drive for things to ‘run better’, and for their use of initiative to improve the way things are done.

Once in the role, the formality of the responsibilities become clearer: plan the work to meet goals, assign the work to be done and support the doers of the work, and work collaboratively with other managers to ensure the flow of work across the organization.   Demands come from your boss, your staff, and other managers.  Your previously voluntary choice of selecting a problem to solve, evolves into focusing on multiple problems, and the need to be responsive to multiple stakeholders whose needs sometimes conflict in view or priority or both.  It is easy to lose track of the intent to make a difference; to worry, out of a sense of burden and anxiety.

Certain types of ‘worry’, however, can be positive: a manger needs to know risks, not the academic calculation of % risk, but the apprehension that comes from imagining that a significant adverse event could happen and needs to be prevented; a manager needs to know that a goal is worthwhile only if important, and that to not meet the intended result means that the difference has not been made, with corresponding risk to the client, to staff morale or to organization credibility.

In this sea of risks, the Manager goes about running things: What are staff to do, at what level of quality and what cost?  How can staff be supported to reach their utmost potential?

Harold Geneen, former President and CEO of ITT and widely regarded as a ‘managerial wizard’ and author of the book, Managing, once provided a three-sentence course on business management’:  You read a book from the beginning to the end.   You run a business the opposite way.  You start with the end, and then you do everything you must to reach it.”

Yes, the Manager starts with the end… the goal as the important difference you are setting out to achieve;

Doing everything you must to reach it…within the bounds of personal integrity (self-awareness, truthfulness and reliability); and being determined to overcome challenges, to accept failure as feedback, and to be flexible to find and use an alternative approach.

If you are new to the manager role, it may seem as if everyone else around you knows exactly what they are doing; yet most started where you are now.  If you are an experienced manager you know that experience is the best teacher; your own developing capacity for insight and ability to learn from feedback, and the experience of others as relayed from your peers, mentors, reading, and courses.

Welcome to management; we are here to support you!