There is a way for you to craft a satisfying career as a nonsupervisory “Manager of One,” no matter where you are in the organization, that also preserves your options. As Fried & Hansson (37 Signals), suggest in their New York Times Bestseller, Rework:
Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them. They don’t need heavy direction. They don’t need daily check-ins. They do what a manager would do – set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc. – but they do it by themselves and for themselves.Does this mean you can cowboy off into the sunset and do your own thing? Absolutely not. You must be in close alignment with organizational goals and objectives in order to understand how your actions can lead to results that will matter to the 314 million people we serve. Some people resemble the Fried & Hansson description coming into the organization, whereas others develop over time the ability to make things happen from any position that plays to their strengths. Effective preparation for either path (Senior Executive Service or Manager of One) begins with a willingness to push beyond one's comfort zone, the development of competence and confidence based on small wins, and a permanent shift into continuous learning mode.
Keep an eye on the 2012 Next Generation of Government Training Summit site, where all sorts of resources that can support your path toward either goal - SES or "Manager of One" - will be posted in the days following the July 26-27 conference.