Moving upwards

Is management the only way to progress in one’s career and life? That certainly appears to be the dominant narrative in society, including the public service. Broadly speaking, most of the time, success looks like managing a team of people and achieving results than just achieving individually.

This is all the more true for larger organisations because what matters to the organisation tend to be something that moves the needle for profit and loss. This would be incredibly difficult for an individual contributor to claim; however, the middle manager and CEO who can pass the achievements of a group of individuals they are managing as their own, are seen as the true success.

And of course this is the case especially for public service. What moves the needle for a country, for a district or large jurisdiction is going to be huge. So being competent and then getting promoted to a position where you cover larger and larger responsibility is naturally seen as progression. Even if genuine success is actually helping the people under you achieve greater success, as opposed to trying to achieve success yourself. This is a completely different set of skills; yet people who are promoted within these large organisations and public service has often more to do with their success as individual contributors or ability to deliver individual achievement rather than motivating the team to do better.

Worst, we all have been lulled into thinking that promotion is a reward when more often than not, we would prefer to keep getting better at what one does than to be given a completely different set of responsibilities celebrated but which we don’t care for. So do you still have the same kind of aspirations?

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