Monday, September 04, 2006

Manager as "Professional" = Manager 'Beyond Business'

Is "management" really a "profession"?... Does a manager really qualify to be called a "professional"?

Perhaps it is worth looking at what the term "Profession" means.

More often than not, the meaning of the “profession” remains confined to two parameters:
  • mastery over certain specialized skills or body of knowledge, and
  • membership to a community who possess similar skills or knowledge.

    However, as RJ Lifton, in his book Home from the War (1973) pointed out, there is another, more immportant, criteria for a trade-skill to qualify as a "profession":

    The fundamental and distinctive meaning of the term “profession” (and specially in the context of people-focused helping professions) revolves around the self-acknowledged “public/social role” of the professional. The term “profess” is made up of the Latin prefix pro, which means "forward," or "into a public position," and fess, which derives from the Latin fateri or fass and means "to confess, own, acknowledge." Lifton pointed out that the original meaning of profession was "a personal form of outfront public acknowledgment."

    Thus, a profession by its very definition has a public or social role that goes beyond mere possession of specialized knowledge/skill and membership to a professional body.

    In practice, this is also true of most other professions. A doctor, for instance, still retains his/her professional identity as a doctor even when outside the hospital or his/her chamber. The same is true for a lawyer or a chartered accountant. This is because their professional knowledge and skills remain relevant to the society even outside their place of work.

    In contrast, a manager becomes just another ordinary citizen as soon as s/he steps out of the corporate boundary; his/her professional knowledge/skills have little relvance to perform a social/public role. least so it is in practice!!!

    So when can management really become a "professional"?

    ...when, for instance,
    - the HR Manager can use his skills to empower the de-empowered in the society
    - the Sales Manager can use his skills to open up a market for the village artisans
    - the Corporate Strategist can turnaround a school or a hospital
    - the Finance Expert can find a solution to the 'cash-flow' problem of a vegetable vendor


    That is... when a Manager can remain socially relevant even 'beyond business' !
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