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This is a story and its a part of one of our upcoming training programs on Managerial effectiveness.

I still remember my first day of my M.B.A. The first thing that our class was asked is “What is Management?” We all were saying different answers and then our professor told “Well, management is to get things done by others. That’s all.” And the class started.

I was very happy with such a simple job the manager does – just getting things done by others and that’s all. But, then came the whole syllabus of M.B.A and I understood that there are a lot more works that a manager does. Then a day came I was with an offer letter. And then it was my entry into the corporate world. Fortunately, I was under a boss who is an M.B.A from a prime institute.

I was very thrilled as I will now relate what I learned with my workplace and I again reiterated those words – Planning, Control, Motivational Theories and so on. During the first six months, I was under the pressure of learning new things and performing and was in a race to complete my probationary period.

After that, it was a race to perform. And slowly, I actually forgot what I read in those books. I thought I might have forgotten those I don’t read those books anymore but later I realized that I actually forgot those as those are not seen practiced daily in the workplace I am working. After 2 years, I too became a manager and I had a small team to manage. But, I hardly remembered what I read in the book.

After almost 9 years, in a corporate gathering, I had an opportunity to meet a renowned Executive Coach who also, has done his M.B.A from a prime institute and had a great career where the last job being CEO of a Multi-National Company.

Currently, he is an Executive Coach and I have seen him meeting my CEO several times. Probably my CEO is being coached by him. He delivered a great speech on “Coming Trends in Management” and I was astonished there was nothing related to what I learned in M.B.A. Slowly while chatting in that gathering I went near him and introduced myself.

I was slowly contributing to the discussion in that group to gain his attention. And I was successful. I was able to garner his attention. After some, one to one exchanges of thoughts, I suddenly asked “Well, I need some clarity from you. I am unable to find a few answers. It will be great if you can give me 15 minutes time someday.” He asked “Why not now?  Why you need to wait for some more days to get clarity. Let’s make this time the right time.”

I was so happy and immediately asked. “Well, one unresolved query is constantly haunting me. I am finding almost no link between the words Management what I read in M.B.A and what I am actually practicing or I see my some of my peers & seniors, who are premium institute pass out, are practicing. Also, I have seen lots of instances where people who don’t have an M.B.A degree but they hire Top Level M.B.A in their company. In that case, why they don’t do M.B.A themselves?” At a go, I asked such a long question. I was very clear about what I wanted to know.

The Coach was quiet for a few moments and was only looking at my eyes. I was a bit uncomfortable as I was thinking I might have asked a wrong set of questions. “Hey, what a question!!!” he started surprisingly. “In fact, it was my query as well when I started my career. But it got resolved slowly over a period of time.” Then he started “What you learned in M.B.A were theories, tools, methods, and different concepts. These concepts empower you to do your works more effectively than a person with no M.B.A degree – provided you implement the same. These things can be learned easily without doing M.B.A also but studying M.B.A ensures you have learned those things in a structured manner and under a knowledge expert. That’s what M.B.A is all about.”

“Now coming to the second part which you named Management” he started again. “Management is different from an M.B.A degree.”

“What?” I was surprised. What is he saying? Suddenly everything and every meaning in my life have changed.

My education loan seemed meaningless.

My inner feeling started questioning me. “I prepared for 1 year for M.B.A, then 2 years of studies. I have wasted these three years?”

“Is the pride of me and my parents in front of society and family, their appreciation…all these are false?

For a few seconds, I thought that the entire world has stopped. Probably the coach understood what I was experiencing internally. He smiled at me and said, “Well, I am not saying M.B.A is useless what I meant, Management and M.B.A is different.” I felt he was trying to console me but my earlier queries became more complex and I was unable to understand how to react even.

“Please tell me the difference. I am utterly confused.” I directly asked without wasting a single moment.

“M.B.A gives you a good certificate which certifies that you know the theories, tools, methods and different concepts that a manager has. And how much you know is certified by the grade you received. But whether you will be able to implement the same in a great manner is not certified. Hope I am making sense” replied The Coach.

“Yes. But I am still unable to understand the difference.” I replied.

“Well, a great manager may not be an M.B.A and a great M.B.A may not be a great manager. A manager may learn what is taught in M.B.A through different resources over a period of time and an M.B.A may become a great manager over a period of time.” said the coach.

“I am mostly confused,” I confessed again.

“As I told earlier, M.B.A is a set of tool and Managers is what you become. Management is much beyond an M.B.A degree. People prefer hiring M.B.A because they think they will get people ready with the tools to be a manager. And the more premium the M.B.A institute is, the more it certifies that the person has acquired knowledge from the best experts under great infrastructure and facilities. And hence the chances of becoming a great manager are high.” The Coach explained. “M.B.A is a certificate with a set of tools that you acquire but the Manager is what you become. Management is a behavior and it’s different for each of us. But there are a few things which we can change or work upon to become a great manager.”

“Hey, Coach you are here? I was looking for you” a sudden voice came up. I saw it’s my CEO. “Good Evening Sir.” I wished him. “Good Evening Dear,” he replied.

Then he told The Coach “I wanted you to meet someone important in the lounge.”

“Oh Sure!” replied The Coach. He saw me and said “Excuse me for some time. Do well. See you soon”

“Sure” I replied and the very next moment, I gave my business card to him with an expectation to get his business card. And I was successful. I kept on seeing him till the time he was not fully out of my sight. I was not enjoying the gathering anymore. My colleagues were chatting. Good Food, Fine Drinks, and I were not enjoying anything. I wanted to stay alone sometime and I went out of the hotel. I sat in my car. Switched on the AC. I loosened my Tie and was thinking about what I learned. And while thinking, I planned to write a note every day about what I learned on that day.

After reaching home, I took out my Mac Book, opened a new Page and wrote 4 leanings:

  1. A person without an M.B.A degree can also become a Great Manager.
  2. Even if I am not from the most prime M.B.A institute, I have the opportunity to become a great manager. 
  3. Everyone has the capacity to become a Great Manager.
  4. And lastly, “Management is what you become. It’s a behavior.”