"Horrible Bosses" Aside, Here's Why You Should Be Proud To Be One

Last Updated Jul 26, 2011 8:14 AM EDT

It's a bad time to be a manager. Employees look at you suspiciously because they know you might be sneaking up behind them any minute with a pink notice. Upper management isn't happy that employees are unhappy, so The Bigs blame you. Then a movie like Horrible Bosses hits the screen, and everyone is reminded once again what they hate about you, as discussed on Why Managers Suck.

So I'm here to give you a lift, to remind you that being a manager isn't such a bad job after all. It actually is a higher calling, as brought to life in observations by Harvard Business School professors Teresa Amabile and Linda Hill.

Teresa Amabile, Horrible Bosses
"Work is a huge part of most people's lives, right up there with family, health, and religion. And their quality of life depends a great deal on what happens to them at work. Our research has shown that people desperately want the opportunity to succeed at work that they believe is valuable in some way. Creating these opportunities is the proper purview of management. By seeing themselves as catalysts for these positive changes and working to make them happen, managers can become heroes in their organizations and beyond."
Linda Hill, Being the Boss
Managers receive satisfaction from a number of sources, she says, one being from doing something important for society. "Management isn't usually discussed in these terms, but without it, society cannot function. We depend on the ability of organizations, groups of people of all sizes and purposes, to function productively, and management is the critical difference. Management makes it possible for groups of people to do useful collective work.... Without what you do, the institutions of society -- commercial, military, governmental, social -- cannot function productively for long."

Feel better about being a manager? Don't get cocky--just remeber the words of the great Peter Drucker: "Ninety percent of what we call 'management' consists of making it difficult for people to get things done."

(Photo by Flickr user bradleypjohnson, CC 2.0)

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  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.