One of the many ways the world is different now is the perception that truly successful people must be consumed by their work – to the point that 55 hours a week is virtually the minimum – and we’ve all been exposed to the idea that it’s admirable for someone to spend as much as 70 hours a week consumed by their “passion.”
Setting aside the dubious effect on emotional health, I’m concerned about how that much time spent in that domain affects things like connecting with family needs, sustaining a household, participating in community life, etc. I can go on and on about how unhealthy, even destructive that kind of thing can be, but for our purposes let’s talk about “workaholism” and managing.
Obviously, I regret any cultural divide between management and workers which implies that line employees are “less than” or “lack motivation” as reflected in their choice of job. I want to push back against the postmodern undercurrent that you’re not management material unless you’re prepared to give your life over to the goals of the organization.
Not only is it possible, it’s absolutely necessary that managing and supervising NOT require a fundamentally different orientation whose prominent feature is the huge commitment of time and energy, and contrasted with line workers who simply go home on the dot at the end of the workday.
Managing people well is a skill that can be learned by people who are not necessarily “naturals,” and it doesn’t require huge amounts of extra time and energy. In fact, nothing is more powerful than the model of someone who seems to be able to help the people he or she supervises accomplish the work without turning everything into a “crisis,” or conveying endless urgency and pressure. A reasonably healthy, essentially balanced supervisor has a huge positive effect on the employees, the workplace culture, and is actually crucial to an organization’s overall well-being.