Most people, including most managers, believe that managers have more
power than the people in their groups. While it's true that managers
commonly have certain functional authority delegated to them, like setting
work schedules for the group, true power cannot be delegated to you from
above. You are only as powerful as you are capable of making your group
more successful. And while your ability to lead the group greatly
influences it, your power comes from the willingness of the people in your
group to grant it to you.
In our society, people value titles. A title of Senior Vice President,
Worldwide Marketing sounds much more impressive than Research Chemist.
However, the marketing person may work for a 3-person company and make
$30,000 per year while the chemist works for a major oil company,
supervises 4 other chemists, and makes well over $100,000 per year.
If your goal is to be CEO of General Motors, you probably should start now on a management career. If you want to be President of the United States, a management track isn't required. Several recent Presidents have managed nothing but their campaigns. If you want to brag to your mother-in-law about what a success you are, and power, prestige, and money are important to your definition of success, management may be they way to go. If you measure success by friendships and how soundly you sleep at night, a management career can give you that, but so can many others.