A Practising Manager as opposed to a student of management is like the trapeze artist high up in the air, balanced precariously on a bare ledge, while the student of management sits in the audience at the edge of his chair with a management programme in his hands. He is wondering when he will get the chance to be up there while the practising manager knows that if he misses the tiniest cue, he will land with a thud as there is no protective net in this game of management. The student could be a young manager not yet graduated to the more complex trapeze tasks of the more experienced manager up there. He has got singed a few times already by the uncertainties and opposition endemic to a managerial life. He has got both hurt as well as had his adrenaline flowing when going through those scalding moments. He came out of each of those contextual skirmishes in his management baptism sensing the power of having learnt something new and survived. His face glowed in excitement with pride and reduced prejudices. He has tasted blood and becomes hungry for more – for more of managerial experiences and observes the more experienced practitioner knowing well that he has to perform as astutely and lithely as the one up there garnering all the applause in awe and appreciation from the stunned audience. This student has the leadership germs tingling inside him. All he needs is more of such singed experiences followed by practice and more practice. He will be one day up there flowing with the elements of the challenges and risks that crackle time and again at each unknown corner of a practising manager’s journey.
To be excited about such experiences is great. Management of an enterprise would do well to expose younger people to the vagaries and vulnerabilities of management. This exposition would either attract those who have the foundation to be drawn towards a leadership life embedded with anxiety or make them shun such risky experiences. Observation of the behaviour of the exposed could tell you where the chaff gets separated from the potential leaders. Those who get attracted to a life of relative risks could be moulded into future leaders. They would be the ones to volitionally engage themselves with the vision or the long term purposes of the organisation. Others who did not have the foundational anchoring to be attracted to a life of risks or that of being a leader – manager, would need to be motivated. Management could very well accept that such people would always deliver satisfactory underperformance while the volitionally engaged would drive the organisation towards growth beyond expectations.