Management as a highly specialized profession

Photo by saschapohflepp

I was reading an interview with Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president and head of Israel R&D for Microsoft on Themarker Magazine. Lichtman talked about many interesting issues, but one of them was of special interest to me (I translated the passage myself from Hebrew, so it might not be accurate):

We need more professionals and not only managers. It is a shame that people in Israel don’t respect professionals who are individual contributors. Everybody wants to be a manager and does not respect the professional although they contribution to the company is critical. The job of every high level manager is that is company would include as many productive professional as possible.

This strongly connected with something I read in Lynda Gratton’s blog:

What has been seen as ‘human work’ is increasingly moving to work that can be outsourced to a computer – giving feedback, managing information, creating reports  – can now be achieved through a combination of micro-chips rather than a human brain. So to be a ‘general’, jack-of-all-trades is not a great place to be. Your competitor is not the kids next door – it’s Wikipedia or an ever smarter computer. So increasingly valuable and interesting work will migrate to people with deep, specialist skills that have been honed through great education and coaching. That puts a huge emphasis on the education system of a state to both up- skill, and as importantly, to create a context where people want to learn and are prepared to put in the time and effort that the acquisition of deep skills creates.

I have written before on our bias toward management positions and the fact that companies are losing professionals and these individuals are losing themselves in promotions to managerial roles. Not everybody is fit to be a manager. But more importantly, managers are not the most important element in any company. Our perceptions and compensation plans should reflect that.

But there is an extra idea hidden in these two quotes. Management, like other professions is becoming more and more a professional field. Something that only people with the right aptitude, skills and experience can do. Facilitating a discussion, connecting between different disciplines, creating atmospheres of psychological safety and truly caring and connecting about people is not something everyone can do. The faster we start treating management as specialization in understanding human beings the closer will be to solve some of management’s moonshots.




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