What do you do when you come to the realization that you have arrived at a place in your career when you have no desire to be in management? We’re told via succession planning and the seen potential in us by others, that we are management material. Management is always conveyed as the ultimate goal of any role, to be in charge of and over others. But the looks of disbelief that come when you tell your supervisor/manager that have no passion or desire to move into management are staggering. They look at you in disbelief, dumbfounded at your words, and as if you have taken temporary leave of your senses; like you are lazy and lacking in ambition, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
How can you convey that you are and wish to continue to be an integral part of the organization but you need not have a management job title to do so? How can you express that you do have leadership qualities but that you feel that they are best served as a SME (Subject Matter Expert)? That isn’t to say that you don’t aspire to something greater, that you object to being elevated to a higher station or that you couldn’t see yourself in the C-Suite at some point.
At Talent Connect™ 2014 in San Francisco this year, I found out that Google™ asks all interviewees, “In 20 years what do you want to say you have accomplished” to gauge the candidate’s desired career path and as a behavioral interview question. I took that to heart and felt that the reply to that question should be thoughtful and insightful, not only for the interviewer, but for the interviewee as they do an exercise in introspection. To reply to this inquiry with, “I want to have been a manager”, one would have to ask why and what is their motivation for wanting to have attained such a role? Are they driven by power, money, fame, success and accolades? If asked, I personally would say that I want to have helped as many people as I could. I want to have been able, in some small way, bettered myself and others. Though I can’t change the world, if I can change just one person’s opinion and thoughts or positively influence their behavior, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. If that happens as a result of or because I am in a managerial role, then so be it. If my ability to influence people is contingent upon my job title then I am not effective at what I do.
Honest conversations with yourself about your motivations will clear the path and set the tone for these difficult conversations. The sun has not set on your professional journey. Just remember that “Not now” doesn’t mean “Not ever”.
Blessing and Happiness