Career Development: What It Really Means to be a Manager, Director, or VP

March 29, 2024

Dave Kellogg wrote a great piece on management levels, and their differences:

Managers are paid to drive results with some support. They have experience in the function, can take responsibility, but are still learning the job and will have questions and need support. They can execute the tactical plan for a project but typically can’t make it. Directors are paid to drive results with little or no supervision (“set and forget”).

Directors know how to do the job. They can make a project’s tactical plan in their sleep. They can work across the organization to get it done. I love strong directors. They get shit done.

VPs are paid to make the plan. Say you run marketing. Your job is to understand the company’s business situation, make a plan to address it, build consensus to get approval of that plan, and then go execute it.

Part of truly operating at the VP level is to internalize this fact. You are accountable for results. Make a plan that you believe in. Because if the plan doesn’t work, you can’t hide behind approval. Your job was to make a plan that worked. If the risk of dying on a hill is inevitable, you may as well die on your own hill, and not someone else’s.

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