Who is a manager? What does it mean to be a manager? Is she/he someone who gives a solution to every problem? Is she/he a troubleshooter that saves an organization in a time of crisis? Is she/he a leader that inspires people to follow that path to greatness? Is an MBA just a degree and a road to high paying jobs?
I believe an MBA is something more than a mere degree. I believe that an MBA is a journey - a journey that acts as a bridge between the emotions of heart and intellect of mind, a journey that makes impossible dreams attainable goals. People have aspirations and big dreams but most of us lack the resources (internal and external) to realise them. I had the same dilemma while contemplating these questions in my head. I had a big dream of reaching the pinnacle of my potential. While searching for resources that would enable me to attain that, I joined XAHR, and while meandering through the program, I stumbled upon answers to all my questions. Thus, the story of my MBA journey begins.
I was working in an organization as a plant engineer. Everything was ideal for working. The work was engaging and rewarding. The company is reputed. Yet, I felt there was something missing; I was not being able to perform to the best of my abilities. I was looking for ways to improve my performance. This exploration ended with me deciding to pursue an MBA to hone my managerial skills. The role of an HR professional held an attraction for me and I eventually decided to make a career in the field. As it is said, the choices we make ultimately make us.
I came in, thinking that I will learn new theories which I can apply, new techniques to solve problems and some lessons that would magically increase my knowledge as well as my efficiency. Most of us come here with this superficial line of thought. We want sudden growth in everything ranging from our placement packages to our CVs. We assume an MBA course to be some other-worldly djinn that will just do everything we have ever wished for.
But soon, all these myths turned to dust as I realised that an MBA was not the mystical genie I was waiting for. It was a normal two-year course. We often miss the beauty that lies in simplicity. This was no different. I crammed up books, did thoroughly researched assignments, wrote my exams to gain maximum marks. But somehow, I could not feel that miraculous improvement in myself.
Slowly, as time passed, I began to realise the true meaning of management. Now, when I am in the final leg of my MBA course and look back at my journey, I clearly perceive a transformation that has taken place in me. I am not that person who had come to learn new techniques and new approaches. I took almost two years to see the change. MBA was nothing close to what I had imagined; it was never meant to serve as a tool in my quest to succeed. It is just an instrument through which one can introspect and realise that the resources we search for are within; one can see the best that one be and strive towards it.
The course made me realise that we are many people bundled under one skin. Experiences of people who shape our personality have a significant influence on how we react to various situations in life. In a manner of speaking, we are all swimming in the projections of their life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own reactions. This is why our judgements and decisions are clouded with the subjectivity of various factors. A manager knows this, identifies the subjectivity as positives or negatives and uses it to benefit everyone. Making objective decisions while keeping the subjectivity in mind is like fusing heart and brain into one.
MBA has broadened my perspective towards the way of life. I am not here just to bag just one good package or one job - I am here to make a career. Conceptual studies are like hygiene factors. One cannot survive without them but simply mastering them will not make one succeed in life. Until we learn to appreciate the individuality of every person and every situation amidst subjectivity, we cannot solve anything or help anyone with just theoretical knowledge.
Unfortunately, I was too busy for the most part of the journey to see this. I made my life complex by indulging in my own perceived rat race. I was so focused on achieving that fleeting victory that I lost sight of my dreams. Most of us fall prey to this trap. In an attempt to get accepted, we lose our soul and mind both. This is the main reason we fail. This is why successes last only until someone does one better than us. But failures - they last forever. We start basking in the glory of our misery. We create imaginary walls so big that our dreams become blurred. We have to break free. We need to learn what studies of management is trying to teach us rather than just mug up the whole study itself. MBA is a guide, not the path itself.
A great man once said, ’It’s not over until it’s over.’ Once I started practising this, I started living like it is supposed to be, like a human. I solved problems without getting annoyed. I helped others without thinking about my ego. I contributed to society and nation without giving myself the priority. I became a leader while being a team player. But all good things come at a cost. Time and patience were to be invested heavily. It took 1.5 years to reach this point.
Now, I know am a transformed man. I try to avoid rash decisions and try to seek reason before reacting. I give more weightage to dialogue than dominance. I keep my eyes on the bigger picture while achieving the smaller targets. I know that there’s still a long way to go. I have to grow mentally first. I continue to fight without giving up. I know there will be setbacks, but I will get up after each fall. I will not stop until I achieve my goal. I think I have realised the true meaning of being a manager.
So, what is the connection between a manager and not taking offence?
Offence is the condition of having your feelings hurt. Be it a derogatory statement on your sentiment or a tough question gone wrong in your preferred subject or it may be an incorrect shot in your favourite sport. Any difficulty that might go beyond your expertise may offend you. But a manager assesses the gravity of any issue, finds the solution instead of giving in to the hardship, even if it means using every ounce of resources he has.
There will be times when the problem will be too big. There will be times when your team will lose strength. It will look up to you to lead them, fight for them. There will be times when the challenges are too big and the changes are too fast. It takes nerves of steel to stand in the face of adversities and best them while looking in their eyes without blinking. It takes real courage to not get offended.
So, who is a manager? Simple, it is an art - the subtle art of not taking offence.
XAHR (Xavier School of Human Resource Management)