Top class footballers don’t necessarily make good managers. Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, World Cup Winners and the best of their generation, tried and failed. Few players have much insight into the role of management they are to preoccupied with playing, what they do know is usually limited to the visible stuff, the time the manager spent with them and the rest of the team.
Most players know little about the manager’s role in working with the board, dealing with colleagues responsible for recruitment and development or those in charge of the commercial side of the business, the money generators . They don’t know and probably are not interested in much beyond the training ground and match day. In this they are no different to other professionals. Most social workers, teachers, architects, solicitors, accountants have little understanding of what their line manager does never mind what’s involved in running a large complex organisation. The only time they might give it some thought is if they decide to enter management.
So if you were asked to provide a reference and include an assessment of whether one of your team had what it takes to be an effective manager/senior manager what evidence would you use? I would think back to how the individual responded to my request for the team to come up with ideas about how we could make budget savings. I would think about how they reacted to a complaint raised by a local MP on behalf of a constituent and what sort of job they made of drafting a reply on my behalf.
When we had to implement a closure program involving the re assessment of our clients as part of budget cuts did they see the bigger picture? When we invested a lot of time and energy building relations with the local Hospital Trust, with very little reciprocated goodwill, did they dismiss the initiative as a waste of time or did they recognise and accept the politics? In other words were they thinking like a manager/senior manager long before deciding to be one?
If we took this approach would we avoid people going into management with the wrong idea or for the wrong reason? I very much doubt it. You grow in the job and some grow more than others. After all who would have thought a member of the awkward squad, who thought all senior managers were out of touch, some one who considered councillors hypocritical for voting to close homes then fronting the campaign to keep their local home open and thought the local MP a pain in the arse for asking we reconsider our decision and make an exception for their constituent, who would have identified them as a future Director!