Does a general need to be a master gunner, expert sniper, ace fighter pilot, master spy and intelligence expert and all the other specialist soldiers and fighters that make up the military? Think about it for a second. Is it even possible?
The reality is that a general’s job is not to be down there in the trenches. He needs to know enough to know what is possible or not. His job is to ensure how all these units and capabilities are integrated and coordinated to complete a critical task. This is again a question of confusing the forest for the trees. Even some generals (think managers) fall into this trap, thinking that their role is to be as good or even better than the staff they manage.
Some managers who have been promoted from the ranks find the transition difficult to make where they need to stop “doing” and start “managing” or “leading”. They end up getting in the way of people who can do things better. They also end up neglecting their true role, which is keeping a sharp lookout at the whole picture, how everything meshes together. By neglecting that, coordination breaks down and the team loses cohesiveness and synergy. People don’t know when it is their turn to do things or where their role fits in the grand scheme of things. All because no one is taking care of that aspect of the job.
A manager’s job may seem “invisible” to most people especially if things are going very smoothly. In fact when things are going very smoothly most people may think the manager is not at all necessary. They may not realize that the manager is the glue that is holding it all together. It is only when things fall apart that people realize, and blame, correctly, that the manager is ultimately responsible.
So if you are a manager or aspiring to be one, don’t forget that your role is to manage the whole spectrum of activity. Resist the temptation of jumping in and being a soldier especially if you have a large army (think team). The bigger the army the more hands off you have to be. Stand back. Do your job as coordinator, manager, leader and strategist. That is what you should be doing.