Can you become a manager without managing people? Yes, you can!

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A manager can have many duties and responsibilities without directly managing people.

A Manager's Role

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A manager can have various responsibilities, but there are a few characteristics that separate managers from other employees:

  • Leadership and authority

  • Delegation or strategic planning skills

  • High level of responsibility and accountability

  • Access to tools not available to other employees

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Many of these characteristics can be found in managerial roles that don't require direct subordinates.

1. Project Management

A project manager is responsible for anything that involves a project and has duties such as:

  • Logistics — planning what, when, and who needs to do the work

  • Scheduling — to meet project milestones and deadlines

  • Budget — making sure the project is keeping to the specified budget

  • Effective communication — coordinating work done by different people

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Project managers design and oversee a project, but they might not manage a team directly.

Project managers can work for various companies, such as construction companies.

2. Systems Manager

A systems manager designs and implements software, and may oversee the IT department.

A Black female systems manager in front of a server room. Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

An organization's systems manager's duties may include:

  • Assess and evaluate technology needs

  • Install and maintain software and hardware

  • Report on improvements and upgrades

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Systems managers work with people in various departments without direct reports. They often work in finance, insurance companies, or technology companies such as Microsoft.

3. Process Manager

Process managers analyze data to promote organizational growth.

A manager drawing a flow chart. Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Monitor, assess, and implement changes

  • Document process improvements

  • Update policies and procedures

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Process managers work with various teams to ensure the implementation of processes, and may not have direct reports.

They work at various organizations, but most work within the manufacturing industry.


Eliza wants to become a manager without managing staff. She's great at budgeting and scheduling, and she's a good communicator. What kind of manager can Eliza become?

Take Action

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If you're interested in becoming a manager without managing people, showcase your leadership skills and:


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