Management is considered a profession. One characteristic of a profession is that it certifies when its members have attained a particular level of proficiency. So why don’t we certify managers?
Yesterday I met Marcia Reynolds, a former president of the International Coach Federation (ICF). She was telling me that one of the concerns executives have in hiring coaches, either for themselves or other managers in their organizations, is getting someone who is qualified. Lots of people call themselves coaches (e.g., life coach, leadership coach, executive coach, etc.) no matter what their background or capabilities. So how does an executive know whether a coach is qualified? One way is by getting a coach who is ICF certified. As she was talking, it got me thinking “Why don’t we certify managers?”
Certification is not new. Lawyers take the bar, physicians take boards, accountants take the CPA, and engineers take specialized exams. Project managers are certified by the Project Management Institute, teachers are certified, and people can be certified in Six Sigma. But there is no certification for “managers”. We don’t have, for example, a “professional manager” or a “professional leader” certification. As a result, we have no independent way to determine whether someone who represents themselves as a manager is, in fact, a qualified manager. Anyone, regardless of qualification or background, can be a manager.
What about an MBA? Doesn’t that certify something? Yes, it certifies that the person completed a program of study, but it does not certify that they can manage or lead. It would be nice if we had some way of knowing if people have some basic management capability. If management is going to be a profession like law, medicine, accounting, etc.. we should certify managers. And someone who is in a position to do that is the American Management Association.
My dad was a board certified pathologist, and when I told physicians, they were generally impressed. They knew the exam was very tough and few people passed it. Board cerfified meant something. I don’t get the same reaction when I tell people a friend of mine is a manager. It would be nice if I did.