Managerial Roles And Mindsets: Can Anyone Juggle Them All?

Published: Oct 26, 2016
Modified: Jun 01, 2020


How many managerial roles and mindsets can you think of off the top of your head? And how many of those can one person reasonably be expected to effectively fulfill? In a classic November 2003 Harvard Business Review article, “Manager’s Job: Folklore and Fact,” Mintzberg outlines 10 daily managerial roles that fall within three broad categories:

1) Interpersonal

  • Figurehead: You represent your group to your organization and the community at large.
  • Leader: You hire, train and motivate employees.
  • Liaison: You maintain contact with colleagues and stakeholders outside your immediate chain of command.

2) Informational

  • Monitor: You leverage your personal network to scan the environment for vital information.
  • Disseminator: You feed information to subordinates who lack your access to critical data.
  • Spokesperson: You provide information on behalf of your unit to senior management and outside organizations.

3) Decisional

  • Entrepreneur: You initiate projects to improve your unit’s processes or profits.
  • Disturbance Handler: You manage crises precipitated by employees, customers, suppliers, systems or accidents.
  • Resource Allocator: You decide who will get what, coordinate the impact of interrelated decisions and allocate managerial time.
  • Negotiator: You use strategic information to resolve grievances, establish contracts and promote shared decisions.

If you want to improve your managerial skills, take a good look at what actually happens each day:

  • How do you spend your time?
  • In which activities are you engaged?
  • Are you really operating in all 10 pivotal managerial roles?
  • Where do you need help or to learn and grow?

5 Effective Managerial Mindsets “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”Peter Drucker Mintzberg further describes five critical managerial mindsets:

  1. Managing self (reflective mindset). A reflective mindset allows you to be thoughtful, examine familiar experiences in a new light, and set the stage for developing innovative products and services.
  2. Managing organizations (analytical mindset). An analytical mindset ensures that you make decisions based on in-depth data (quantitative and qualitative).
  3. Managing context (worldly mindset). A worldly mindset helps you operate in diverse regions, with the cultural and social insights needed to serve varied customers.
  4. Managing relationships (collaborative mindset). A collaborative mindset fosters relationship building among the individuals and teams who produce your products and services. Instead of managing people, focus on managing your relationships with them. Lead by engaging them.
  5. Managing change (action mindset). An action mindset energizes you to create and expedite the best plans for achieving strategic goals.

Expecting managers to excel in all five managerial mindsets misses Mintzberg’s point. Managers are people, not superheroes. But when they’re at least somewhat familiar with each way of thinking, they can more easily recognize which skills are needed and appropriately switch mindsets.

This is the role of leadership and management development programs, to provide the common language and framework by which employees can hold themselves and others accountable. To develop well-rounded role models who effectively lead and manage those around them.

About The Author

Morag Barrett is the best-selling author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships and CEO of SkyeTeam, an international HR consulting and leadership development company. Morag’s experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing leaders and teams across Europe, America and Asia. SkyeTeam works with clients in a range of industries including: Healthcare, Telecoms, Mining, Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology.