Who is a manager is the topic of a seminar that I recently attended on management and management functions in Spain last summer. The question seem simple but a deep reflection quickly shows that being a manager is more than a job title given to certain class of people in corporate environment.
This article critically discusses who a manager is by delving into the uncommon qualities, experience, characteristics, and qualifications of a manager. A good place to start from is to provide a reasonable discussion of who a manager is and then go further to look at what qualities one must possess to be called a manager in this volatile competitive business world.
WHO IS A MANAGER?
To answer the above question, we need to start by providing a brief definition of the phrase so that all other aspects of this piece will be coherently tied to the definition so provided. Hence, find the definition and meaning of a manager in the section below.
DEFINITION AND MEANING OF A MANAGER
A manager is a person saddled with the responsibility of carrying other people’s burden. This definition might be weird and criticized by many but, how else can you explain who a manager is other than a person that is blamed or praised for other people’s failures or successes respectively?
Have you ever tuned your radio or television and hear financial analysts or investment accountants criticize or praise workers for the failure or success of a business entity? I haven’t and I don’t think you have either. The praises and blames goes to the management team of the company being analyzed.
The view of these professionals about manager’s responsibility to accept both praise and blame is the right thing to do as managers in their various positions are better positioned to:
(a) Motivate people and bring out the best in them which in most cases are wonderful innovative and critical thinking.
(b) Supervise the activities of others as part of the directing function of management
(c) Co-ordinate the activities of other resources to ensure that suboptimal decisions are avoided while working towards a common objective of the company
(d) Providing feedback to both the owners of the business and workers in the business.
Contrary to somewhat popular uninformed opinion of many, a manager like many think is not a lazy boss that seats in the office all day doing nothing other than bullying subordinates and co-members of management team. No, the task of being a manager is much more than a lot of people think
CHARACTERISTICS AND QUALITIES OF A MANAGER
Being called a manger in the office is not all that it takes to become a real manager of resources (people, machines, finance, data, information, etc). There are qualities that distinguish successful managers and those that have failed in their managerial positions. Below are some of those characteristics and features that you must have if you really want to be a true manager.
PROACTIVE AND GOAL ORIENTED
Managers are people who don’t react to situations but rather responds to situations. It is a business and management taboo to be an activity oriented manager in the modern business environment. An activity oriented manager is someone who is busy doing nothing other than looking for whom to blame for not doing the right thing. You will always see them making fuse out of nothing.
They are the loudest in the office and never allow their subordinates to be organized let alone perform their duties. As a manager, your first and surest bet to achieving your dream success is to become a ‘proactive and goal oriented manager’. Goal oriented managers are people that see opportunities where others are seeing threat and danger.
VAST IN RELEVANT OPERATIONAL KNOWLEDGE
Being a manager entails so many things which include constant hunger for knowledge and learning. You dare not allow your knowledge to become rusted as a manager as doing so means inviting disaster. In today’s risky business world that is characterized by incessant financial crisis and corporate failures, the areas that managers must pay close attention are discussed in the next section of this article on who is a manager.
15 Areas or aspects that modern managers must be very knowledgeable about
- Process improvement
- Internal control and fraud prevention techniques
- Risk Management
- Staff motivation
- Social Media Relationship
- Management accounting and decision making skills
- Proper deployment and use of information technology – including cybersecurity threats
- Turning struggling businesses
- Performance Measurement and Appraisal
- Human Resource Management
- How to benefit from outsourcing certain business functions
- Supply chain management and logistics
- Financial SWOT analysis
LIVE BY EXAMPLE
My father always says that children do what they see you doing and not what they hear you say. As a managers, you need to lead an exemplary life that is worthy of emulation so that your followers can do same. You don’t for example come late to work on a daily basis and expect that people working under you will do the opposite. Not living by example is an ugly and unacceptable business ethics that managers should try as much as possible not to get rid of.
I have never seen any successful person that avoids facing responsibilities squarely. As a manager, one of the things that will make or mare you is your ability to stand up tall when the tides are high. You will never regret that you do. People working for you or working in partnership with you should have this sense of confidence in you that come what may you remain unshaken.
There is cliché that puts me off whenever people say is to my hearing. People say that ‘honest guys don’t last in businesses’. And I ask them who told you that honest people do not go far in business? In case you do not know, this is a trick that is used by dream killers to lure you into doing unethical and unprofessional things that will in no distant time pull the business that you represent down the drain.
Make honesty, accountability and transparency your motto if you really want to make it to the top as a manager.
Being confused and in disarray is not what managers are known for. As a person that is made the custodian of other assets, you need to strategically plan ahead in all that you do. What others will want to do tomorrow, set yours in motion yesterday and complete it today.
THE ROLES OF MANAGERS
An article on who is a manager cannot be complete without discussing the roles of managers. Managers are people entrusted with responsibilities of saddling the affairs of a business both in good times and in bad times. The daily functions of managers which can be construed to be same as their roles include the following functions of management:
- Risk analysis and management
- Creation and management of positive public relations
For a discussion of the above, read my previous post on the functions of management for greater insight.
I hope I haven’t scared you by bringing to your attention the challenges that faces management in this ‘now’ economy that we all dwell in? Well, if I did, the intent of pointing out what it takes to become a manager will help you as an aspiring manager to fashion out strategy that will help you overcome the challenges of managing a 21st century business.
Now, can I ask you a question, who is a manager? Reflect on it and leave your thoughts in the comment section.