Why not everyone wants to be a manager

by Jan 30, 2024

 Not everyone wants to be a manager

Why I am seeing more of this? 


The role of the manager today is in a state of flux and under review. Managers very often perceive themselves to be the cheese in the corporate sandwich, squeezed from above by upper management  and from below by their reports. Burnout is at all time highs and employees want to leave organisations at record levels. Reports suggest that globally an average of over 70%  of those currently employed are looking for new jobs.

Within the corporate world promotion and seniority are associated with securing a leadership role, yet not everyone wants to be a manager.

Reasons why not everyone wants to be a manager:

1. Preference for being a functional specialist

Some individuals feel more strongly about tapping into their specialised skills whatever they may be, and feel more at ease in that role. Not everyone sees a management position as the ideal career goal and prefers to be recognised for their subject matter expertise.  These roles can be found both at an operational level or in strategic functions.

Nihar Chhaya in the Harvard Business Review explains that it is possible to lead from behind with influence rather than authority in these less managerial roles.


2. Better Work-Life Balance

Managerial roles are often associated with longer working hours, increased stress, and the need to be available 24/7, especially if their job covers multiple locations, a range of functions, and large teams. Many functional specialists have concerns that their work-life balance will suffer.

This is particularly true of Gen Z who as we frequently see on Tik Tok,  feel that the financial rewards associated with senior roles don’t compensate for the stress levels and disruption to their personal lives.

3. Personality preferences

For introverts, leadership roles often involve activities they like least such as extensive interpersonal interactions, team management, public speaking and navigating conflict. While many successful leaders are introverts and do thrive in those circumstances, (I had no idea Barak Obama is an introvert) others find those challenges overwhelming.  High numbers of introverts prefer roles that are less emotionally draining, where they can work independently or in smaller, tightly-knit groups.



Not everyone wants to be a manager


4. The great realisation

Not everyone seeks validation through traditional managerial roles. Success doesn’t always have to come with a title and being in the spotlight with a large team. We need more organisations to accept and recognise that.

A recent study from Forrester Consulting and Indeed suggested that people have come to a “Great Realization.”  Employees want to feel energised with a sense of purpose which is now more important than compensation when it comes to professional happiness. There are different sources of satisfaction.


Invest in yourself. Our Career Coaching can help you work out a clear career management strategy to help you find happiness and achieve your potential.


5. Preference for entrepreneurship

Some people prefer entrepreneurship to intrapreneurship and enjoy the buzz of focusing their energy into creating and running their own businesses. They may stay as a solopreneur or grow to become a micro-business. The drive to build something from scratch is stronger than overseeing a team in an established business.

6. Thrill of a deep dive in a specialism

The challenge of staying up to date and keeping abreast of change isn’t easy. For those in managerial roles, the continuous learning process will be more general usually around people and soft skills. Some prefer to keep up to date in their specialty rather than attempt to have a broader overview.

To address this issue Google encourages employees to spend 20% of their work hours, or one day a week, working on projects of their choice, unrelated to their regular job responsibilities. This freedom allows employees to explore their passions, experiment with new ideas, and collaborate with colleagues across the organisation.

Inclusive workplaces

An inclusive work culture should provide opportunities for growth to both potential leaders or functional specialists. Embracing these differences ensures employees are not only diverse but also fulfilled in their chosen career paths with opportunities to reach their potential.


Does your workplace lack diversity? Get in touch for specialist services for Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment.


Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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