My manager says I don't "show a sense of urgency" like the rest of the team because I am laid-back and typically leave right at 5. But I come in early and work through lunch and definitely 'work my hours.' Is he right that coming in early is not the same as staying late? Is this a view that I need to fight to change within my organization, or is it a common assumption in the working world in the US?
My manager just had a conversation with me that left me pretty confused. I asked him to clarify but he couldn't explain things to my satisfaction. The context of the conversation had to do with a lot of upcoming projects and how I've been taking on a leadership role for my team, and how I'm at a crossroads where I can take charge and pursue the leadership role starting with these projects, or I can opt to focus on being an engineer and working the job I'm accustomed to.
Of course I'm going with the former of those two choices because who doesn't want to push themselves, but the point was then made that while I get results with my work, I don't "show a sense of urgency" like the rest of the team because I am laid-back and typically leave right at 5. Allegedly if I am to become a good leader and inspire confidence in those I am leading, I need to show more enthusiasm and work ethic to set the standard for them to follow. My response to this was to point out that I in fact show up at least an hour early every day and typically work through lunch as well, putting in around 10 hours a day. I thought that would end the discussion right there, but apparently not. He seems to be under the impression that it's better to stay late than come in early, and working through your lunch break doesn't show the same dedication as taking a normal break and then staying an hour late.
I'd like to point out that working overtime is not a requirement, we're simply dealing with how people perceive my work ethic. I choose to come in early because I truly do have a lot of work to do, and I work through lunch so I don't feel bad about leaving right at 5 to spend as much of the evening as possible with my family. That argument only seemed to make my case worse in the manager's eyes because he said that in order to do my job effectively I'm going to end up having to sacrifice some family time once in a while.
By that point in the conversation I was thoroughly confused, so rather than argue it out over what was essentially a compliment ("You're doing well and I want to promote you"), I resolved to find an alternate solution or some validation of his points. Can someone please help me sort this out? Is he right that coming in early is not the same as staying late? Do I need to resign myself to the fact that my evenings are forfeit if I am to pursue a leadership role? (For the record, I've never been shy of staying late when it's necessary, I just try to stay ahead of the game so it doesn't end up being necessary very often.) Should I confront him about any of this, or just leave well enough alone?