Prof. Vincent Bagire
I have written a lot to guide us Christian leaders on management issues that directly affect us in the church. In the last issue, I hinted on the need to document the positions and job placements that the church directly and through her institutions, programs and projects is offering. This becomes an additional dimension of what the church is in our country, an equal opportunities employer. However, we do agree that the interactions we have with secular organizations require us to do things professionally. Yet, it is challenging to become a manager and to fit in the expectations of managerial work.
Most of the new managers begin right away by focusing more on their bosses’ interests. This is true against the message they heard that they have full responsibility and will be held accountable for everything that takes place in their unit. In the new management position, one realizes that he is no longer for himself. One must get to go from oneself and say ‘now am a manager’. A manager must work hard to cope with his or her own life alongside their duty.
To become a manager requires a profound psychological adjustment. New managers need to learn how to think, feel and value as managers instead of as individual members of the organization. They have to work out what it means to be a manager, to develop interpersonal judgment, gaining self-knowledge and coping with stress and emotions. Making it successfully as a manager depends largely on a process of learning from experience, grasping the new roles, identity through actions and contemplation. Learning is by facing real problems and their consequences. The transformation from a mere worker in the organization to a leader of others is always iterative, slow and difficult both intellectually and emotionally.
We therefore need management development. That is where I am placing action for policy guidance to church leaders. While there are many tested managers out there, when we seek to employ them directly in church structures or in closely related institutions, it is important to know how they made it to managerial positions. We should thus add to the many educational programs that the church is offering elements of preparing our people for managerial positions. This is not limited to the laity but clergy and religious as well.
Many priests and religious are appointed in managerial positions at diocesan level and in institutions. At that level, the priests’ role shifts into managing people, resources and processes. Once a medical doctor is made a superintendent, his occupation rises beyond medical practice. This is where my concern is. There has been talk in Uganda that Catholics are not shrewd managers. As an academic, I do not have authoritative citation to this. But I take it under the cover of what is called anecdotal evidences – what we have seen and heard in the community. Some truth exists therefore but we cannot keep taking it for past thinking. The laity must have foundational preparation to be good managers rooted in their catholic values.
Therefore management development here should be best understood as a church’s conscious endeavors to provide managers and potential managers with the opportunities and resources to learn and develop from experience. This development requires deliberate and careful career planning within church ranks. I know CAPU – Catholic Association of Professionals in Uganda, has been revitalized.
It will drive this direction to support our church leadership. I wish to pose some mind teasers for the decision makers. How many catholic teachers are being given exposure as future head teachers of top schools; how many nurses and doctors have equally been prepared as medical superintendents; for our increasing catholic universities, how many professors are being given a catholic hand as potential vice chancellors? How many catholic financial managers are we preparing from the many laity accountants? For the many church projects, do we have a deliberate plan to identify and prepare managers who will run all these church enterprises professionally with Christian values?
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