Should you be a manager?

A response to “Talent cannot be managed” by Vijay Vijayasankar.

I read Vijay’s excellent post about how talent should be lead and not managed.

It seems to have had a stratospheric response, with lots of people loving it. I had to pause for a moment and wonder why.

My first thoughts – involve a little set logic


Of all the people that are out there in the world, there are PLENTY that are unmanageable. (n.b. I do realise I spelt that wrong in whiteboard sketch, some reason there isn’t a spell check on whiteboards (now that’s a cool idea for a future demojam)). There are also plenty that out there that desire leadership more than they like being managed. Of that group there is a small subgroup that are “talent”. I’ve drawn a bigger overlap with “desire leadership over management” for talent as I agree more with this, but the overlaps aren’t really supposed to indicate % of overlap, more that there is some.

Vijay defines some other things about “Talent”: Loyalty, requirement for trust, lack of scalability, need for direction, these are all other things I could have drawn on the diagram. In all cases, there would be an overlap with the other areas (although not being very good and drawing n-dimensional diagrams on a whiteboard I didn’t attempt it.)

The point I’d make is although Vijay states (and I’d tend to agree) that talent possess these attributes, these attributes do not define who is a “talent”.

However, I’m pretty sure that anyone that read the article would be able to identify with two or more of those attributes. Unless the reader had particularly great self awareness, then the “logical” jump is “if I have these attributes, I must be a talent”. Result – instant warm fuzzy feeling. Next result – share warm fuzzy feeling with as many other people as possible. Result, lots of reposting.

Ok, I’m being a little  😉 cynical here, but I don’t think I completely off. Vijay has written a lot of other articles that have been just as good, and many of them have been less subjective. But perhaps haven’t addresses such emotional areas. This article has had a huge response and I think in part (and compared to his other excellent blogs) it’s because of the group identity emotional response trigger that it pulls.

I’m waiting for his next blog “Actually, you’re not a talent” and see if that gets the same response 😉

But that wasn’t the post title – it was “Should you be a manager?”

When I read Vijay’s post it did trigger some thoughts though, primarily, if someone were to identify with these points and consider themselves a “talent” should they really be in the manager role? Now, in most companies in the world, it’s impossible to rise to the top unless you take on some people management skills. But should we, could we, reasonably expect a “talent” that by Vijay’s definitions, “doesn’t mix with non-talent” to effectively manage a team of anyone other than “talent”? Given how rare “talent” is to find, could we even expect such a team to ever exist?

Do we need to think about special training for our “talent” to make then a little more accepting? Or do we risk taking them out of that talent space if we start burdening them with management responsibilities? Or perhaps there are special “talents” that exist who’s talent is people management? What does it say about the career progression and potential of talent if we can’t make them people managers?

One of the comments that I made on reading the post was:

Management is distinct from leadership – Talent leads, that is clear, but can/should it manage? That’s my question back to you Vijay 🙂

Thanks for such a great post.




2 thoughts on “Should you be a manager?

  1. Pingback: Should “talent” move on to manager/leader roles ? | Vijay's thoughts on all things big and small

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