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  • Intelligent Shift

They Walked Away? What it Takes to Love Leading People

My first year of blogs have been personal thoughts, partner discussions and stories. This Blog series will be different.

I have always been fascinated with why people become managers or take on formal leadership roles. One night a friend was talking about leaving a program management position which blended leadership and management forever. In the engineering world I grew up in, ambitious and charismatic people went into management. It was the goal and expectation. Plus is was often the only path to advancement and more money, so why would someone walk away? Would he miss it? What caused this? Did he think he’d go back? I thought about his decision so much, I realized I had to know more.

Since May, I have been interviewing leaders who stepped away from being a manager in some way. Some have gone back; others never will. In each one, there are lessons. I found this exercise fascinating and I plan to write about this topic for the rest of 2018 using anecdotes and insights gained from the interviews. If you want to share a story of why you walked away, email me at I’d love to hear from you.

I promised my subjects to protect their names, but it is important to say these folks include different genders and races; some serve or served in the military; others never have. They span Silicon Valley startups, New York Venture Capital; Washington DC Defense; Heart Land Consumer Products; and even companies like Apple. In their stories, there are themes and drastic differences. I hope to pull out a few insights that will help you decide if management is right for you and what it takes to be fulfilled by leading people.

One important note- management and leadership are different. This series is about people with the title manager, but make no mistake each was both a manager and leader. They had projects to close, people to inspire and strategies they set. I am focused on people aspects, far more than project management.

Part 1 should be finished in a week (hopefully). I’ll see you back here soon!

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