Job vs career are technically the same thing; it's a question of semantics. The actual difference is the mindset. How seriously do you take what you do? Are you passionate about it? Are you coasting through your days or soaking up learnings?

To be a successful manager, you can't consider it a mere 9-5 "job". The best managers are in it for the whole spectrum of experiences and life education that comes along with the job.

To lead performing teams you need to be passionate about what you do. Mostly, you need to be passionate about people.

Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.

Simon Sinek

Here’s a handy infographic that shows you the difference between a job and a career.

Management means being it for the long term

Ask yourself this question: are you in it for the short term? Or the long term? If you’re in it for the short term, it’s hard to get fully motivated to do great work, or inspire it from others. Your team needs a leader that has a long-term vision for everyone's growth and career goals.

If you’re thinking short-term, it’s possible that you’ll do things that might not be in the best interest of other employees, customers, or shareholders. On the flip side, if you’re in it for the long term, your whole thinking changes.

When your team's professional success and personal growth are your priorities, management becomes more than a job. And this is when you'll thrive.

Remember, career development takes time

Professional development and personal growth are among the most important elements of employee engagement. This goes for both you and your team.

Setting career goals for yourself and your team can make the difference between engaged and disengaged employees.

Hopping from job to job makes it harder to get that professional career path going. Growth takes time, relationship-building, self-reflection, difficult discussions, and a lot of learnings. You have to be invested for yourself, but more so for the sake of your team. The success of your team is, after all, your success too.

Once an employee reaches their peak and plateaus, they can become disengaged and demotivated. Conceptualizing management a career focused on people development rather than a job or a title is what will make all the difference in how you perform.

Careers prioritize work experience over pay

One key difference between the mindset of having a job vs career is that jobs give you paychecks, whereas careers give you work experience. You might even consider it a form of life education.

When management becomes a career, your goals are completely different. Instead of focusing on your next paycheck, you’ll be focusing on building long-term relationships with some key mentors and coaching employees to reach beyond their potential.

Compensation becomes an afterthought when you’re working in a place that you love. And the truth is, there are other forms of rewards that are just as rewarding as pay. Intrinsic rewards such as seeing your team blossom under your leadership is extremely fulfilling.

And, if a bigger pay check is what you are after, nurturing a career and your development in the company will help you get there faster.

Managers need an "all in" mindset

When you’re working at a job you don’t care much about you might be more inclined to do the minimum rather than being all in. Management is an all in sort of career. Not only are you dealing with the business objectives which requires a focused and passionate mindset, but you're also dealing with employees and their career advancement. This is not something to take lightly.

When you have a career that you love, you’re willing to go above and beyond your normal duty. When you’re engaged, you don’t mind doing some extra work, in fact, you don’t even notice it. You’re happy to do it because you genuinely want your team and company to succeed.

It’s tough to get motivated and feel like you should go above and beyond if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing. And since managers lead by example, if you want your team to be engaged, you need to be engaged as well.

Where there's purpose, even the tough days are worth it

Of course, even in a career that you absolutely love, there will be some bad days. But for the most part, you'll leave work with a sense of purpose. Loving the essence of what you do and being connected to the "why" you do it will make your day-to-day more meaningful.

Things can get tough as a manager, there is no beating around that bush. Any "job" that requires an emotional investment means there might be more emotional moments.

It might mean difficult conversations with employees, tough feedback from your own boss, or managing conflict on your team. When you have the mindset of career over job, these tough moments become be perceived as learnings and triggers for growth.

Careers are energizing

When you love what you do and who you work with, you’re eager to hit the ground running. Even on a Monday. That doesn't mean you always need to be "excited to work" every day, but it means that the general idea of your day-to-day is more energizing rather than draining.

Knowing you get to lead a team, coach people to reach their potential, and develop your soft skills might be hard work, but it's worth it. This is a career mindset. One that sees the bigger picture of the experience rather than the negatives of the nitty-gritty.

A career is not just a means to an end

A career is an opportunity to develop. Management skills are transferable skills, and there is great value in this. One of the most amazing things about developing as a manager is that you get to grow in two areas:

  • Hard skills, such as prioritization, setting expectations, strategy
  • Soft skills such as emotional regulation, self-awareness, communication

Jobs on the other hand feel more like a means to an end. And those with a "job" mindset often don't stick around in one place for too long.

When you’re devoted to managing a team, you spend that time and energy on building your reputation, making connections, and working your way up the ladder. But when you work for a paycheck alone, you aren't getting a well-rounded sense of fulfillment.

Careers bring a sense of value alignment

When someone’s personal values align with the company’s values, that is the definition of culture fit.

When you’re working at a job you’re not interested in, it’s not necessarily that you won’t agree with the values, you just likely won’t care if they align with yours.

When your values align closely with your organization's, you’ll have a stronger emotional attachment to the brand, making you more likely to be engaged and to give that discretionary effort.

Career vs job is no longer a question you need to ask yourself because your work becomes fun and enjoyable.

Time flies when you're having fun

When you’re working at a job that you don’t like, you may spend most of your day looking at the clock, counting down the time until you can go home.

It’s the complete opposite if you’re working in an organization that you love with a group of people that energize you. When you spend time doing work that you truly enjoy, you can find enough time in a day to get things done. You make it work, for you and your team.

The difference between a job and a career may come down to this simple question - are you having fun at work?

A career is a journey

Jobs answer your needs for the here and now. Careers set you on a career journey for the future. As a manager, you get to do this for your team too. You get to guide them on a path that will lead to their growth by helping them overcome challenges.

Do you have a long-term goal or career path set out? Considering your job as a career in the making is what will inevitably help you achieve it. And, if you're a manager, you have the chance to help others along the way.