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Managers Typology: The Professional



Steve Jobs
Source: Wikipedia

In previous posts I classified Customers e.g Customers Typology: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Part 3: The Ugly and Customers Typology: The Social . In other posts I classified Consultants e.g Consultants Typology: The Consultant who knows everything. The post  Mangers Typology: The Captive was the first post classifying Managers. 

The Professional manager is an expert. His expertise, knowledge and understanding in the subject matter could be better than the knowledge and understanding of the employees he is managing. 
They would ask for his professional opinion and guidance and will not disagree with his technical decisions.

Is the Professional a good manager?
There is no definitive answer to the question above. The answer depends upon the manager's skills and characteristics and the circumstances. 

a personal example
I was a successful manager in the first time I was promoted to a management position.
Of course Management Experience was a skill I lacked. It was not the only Management skill I lacked.   

I was an IBM Mainframe Systems Programming Group Manager. I had more than a decade of technical experience as a Mainframe Systems Programmer. I had a profound understanding of IBM Mainframe Operating Systems, including Internals. 

I was lecturing on Mainframe Operating Systems and I published articles in local and international professional journals.

My profile was a very good fit for the organization requirements. 
Most of the employees, working in an excellent Systems Programming Group, left for another job in another place. The former Manager left after the majority of the people working in the department left. 

The Organization had to find a Manager who could maintain the Operating System and related Hardware and Software. The Organization required a Manager who could select new inexperienced Systems Programmer and could train them and be perceived by them as a Professional authority. 

The Results
The systems operated better than expected. The inexperienced Systems Programmers studied in a course specially designed for them and did a good job. 
A major Operating System migration Project was completed according to schedule. 
Completing a large IT project is important, but the quality of the project is even more important. This migration project was executed without any significant bug or any significant problem.  

After two years: an unsuccessful Manager
The crisis was over and after few years the Operating Systems Department was mature and functioning well. 
The new circumstances required a Systems Programming Department Manager with different skill set. The new skill set included skills such as internal organization Political skills, Internal and external  Sales and Marketing skills etc.


My skills set was not adequate for the new role so I was no longer a good manager. 

I am not the only one
It happened to other Professional Managers as well: when the skills set is no longer adequate, they are replaced by a Manager who is more suitable to the new management focus.
Steve Jobs was one of them. Jobs was forced out of Apple on 1985. Jobs was a co-founder and a CEO of the company. 

He was replaced by John Sculley. Sculley was the President of Pepsi-Cola. 
No doubt that, as far as professional Computers skills are concerned, Jobs skill set was superior. Sculley was a marketing expert, Sales expert and better Politician than Jobs.

Apple of 1985 required a CEO with Sculley's skills set.

Another Example
One of my customers had two main Business Lines. Two IT managers manage the systems of the two Business Lines. They left the company few months before I was hired by the new CIO. 

I do not know if one of these two managers was a good IT Professional, however he cooperated with a deputy. His deputy replaced him when he resigned. 
The former deputy new a lot about the systems and the people responsible for each of them. The systems were documented properly.
I received updated and correct information about the systems.

No doubt that the other Manager was a good Professional, however nobody could tell me about the Systems, the Interfaces between them and who is responsible for each system. 

There was not real deputy (I did not know if someone was formally a deputy. If there was a deputy, he did not know much about the systems). 
The Manager was replaced by someone whose knowledge about the Systems and the responsibilities of the systems was very limited.
I received an incomplete, an inaccurate and sometimes incorrect information about the systems.

I discovered that the manager was performing technical tasks instead of the people who should do it. There was no "natural Deputy", workers' roles and responsibilities were not properly defined and no documentation was available.

It was one man's show. When the man left no show remained.
   
The bottom line: The second manager was a Professional Manager but lacked management skills. The consequences were awful.

Summary
 A Professional Manager could be a successful manager when the focus is on Professional and/or Technical issues.
His fitness to Management positions when other issues are more important than Professional issues is subject to his skills in other domains. Excellent Professional Manager could be a bad manager when the focus is on non-professional issues.        

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More Stories By Avi Rosenthal

Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.

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