What is Mintzberg's leadership role

Career & Salary

When it comes to management, which focuses on progress and change, the fundamental question that needs to be addressed is: What does a manager really do? How can we teach management without having an adequate answer to it? And how can we design planning and information systems - or improve management practices? Even managers do not always know what is related to their tasks.

Manager or executive?

The biggest difference is how they motivate people who work for them or who follow them. And how they set the tone for most aspects of their work environment. In theory, managers have employees who report to them and their job is to plan, organize, coordinate and control. Managers, on the other hand, have employees who follow them and their job is to inspire and motivate them.

Even if these differences exist in theory, it is not possible in practice to separate management and leadership so easily from one another. If we take a closer look at the activities of a manager, it becomes clear that it is not just about planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling. That is the basic idea in the studies and in the article by H. Mintzberg entitled "The Manager’s Job: Folklore and Fact", which was published in the management magazine Harvard Business Review. The author has observed managers in their daily work and made quite interesting statements that we should keep in mind when it comes to the work of a manager.

Managers deal with a constant flood of callers and emails from morning to evening. Coffee and lunch breaks are inextricably linked to work and usually take place in the presence of colleagues. Managers are committed to dealing with the influx of current information and seem to have gotten used to their own workload.

A study by a trade magazine that looked at middle- and upper-tier managers found that managers could only work non-stop for half an hour or more once in two days.

Why rumors matter

In addition, managers are often told to spend more time planning and delegating and less time meeting with clients and participating in negotiations. However, a good manager organizes everything in advance and then sits back to react to unforeseen situations every now and then. At the same time, it is his job to call up "soft" external information, which is mostly only available to him due to his position, and to pass it on to his employees.

Another interesting fact from H. Mitzberg's publication is that managers spend over 66 to 80 percent of their time on verbal communication, while mail content is considered redundant in most cases. Another reason for the huge amount of incoming e-mails is that only 13 percent of the e-mails examined contained up-to-date information that was technically relevant and useful. The “hard” information is used to identify problems and opportunities and to develop models. In contrast, “soft” information such as gossip, rumors and speculations are valued because they are current. The latter are actually more important for managers, as they can be used in decision-making processes.

"Today's gossip is tomorrow's facts - that's why managers like hallway radio." H. Mintzberg

Another important aspect of a manager's job is that the decision-making process has remained unchanged for years. The influence and support of technology on the way a manager works is minimal. Looking at the facts, we can see that a manager's job is difficult. Managers have many responsibilities, but they cannot simply delegate their tasks because only they have exclusive information. As a result, they are overworked and can only half-heartedly complete tasks.

The ten “roles” of a manager

Three of the roles result directly from the authority to issue instructions and the status of a manager. These include basic interpersonal relationships:

  • Figurehead: A manager always has to fulfill official duties, some of which are routine, involve little communication, and often do not involve any important decisions. Nevertheless, they are important for the smooth operation of an organization and cannot be left out.

  • Leader: Some of the actions of a leader involve managing people, including hiring and training employees. On the other hand, there are indirect tasks like motivating and encouraging employees.

  • Networker: Even if this is seldom said, a manager spends as much time with peers or other people outside his department as he does with his own employees.

Information processing and communication are essential parts of a manager's work. Mintzberg describes three roles that have to do with informative aspects of his work.

  • Radar screen: A manager has to constantly search for information, speak to contacts and subordinate employees and record information that he only receives via his personal network.

  • Sender: Passing on information obtained by the manager to subordinate employees who have no other access to it.

  • Speaker: The manager as a representative who sends information to the management team of his organization.

Since information is the basis of decisions, Mintzberg describes four leadership roles that affect the manager as a decision maker.

  • Entrepreneur: In this role, the manager tries to bring about improvements in the department. He supports the adaptation to a changing environment.

  • Problem solver: The manager reacts to changes that are mostly beyond his control. Such situations are inevitable because no one can foresee all the consequences that will come with the action taken.

  • Resource Allocator: As a resource allocator, a manager has to decide who gets what. He also approves important departmental decisions before they are implemented.

  • Negotiator: Negotiations are an integral part of a manager's job because they are empowered and have the information they need to deliver resources to the organization in “real time”.

It can be quite difficult to decide which role to play, especially since these ten management roles are linked to one another and form a management unit. In hindsight, this can be a potential problem for the management team as it requires teamwork with members acting as a unit to be efficient.

Managers need specialists

The manager's performance depends on how well he can deal with and react to the pressures and conflicts at work. A manager must be able to handle and solve even the most difficult situation. A manager's conflict areas include sole ownership of information, the dilemma of delegating tasks, and the problems of working with management specialists.

If a manager decides to leave the company, he takes all information and knowledge with him. The company or the manager should therefore implement effective management to avoid loss of information. If the manager could systematically exchange exclusive information with his employees in meetings or weekly briefings, the loss of information would be minimal. As a result, the time that was used to disseminate information is made up again by allowing his employees to make more effective decisions with the information available.

Another problem that would lead to inefficiencies would arise if the manager paid equal attention to all tasks, regardless of their importance. Managers should be self-contained and see the big picture. Only in this way can they divide their attention depending on the importance of the different tasks. In order to create this comprehensive overall picture, managers can supplement their own models with the help of specialists. Specialists can help managers by, for example, analyzing information, monitoring projects and developing models that help with decision-making and the design of contingency plans. For this to really work, managers need to share information, while specialists need to learn to adapt to managers' needs. In this case, that would mean focusing on the pace of work and flexibility rather than the perfection of the model. More effective managers ensure that duties turn into benefits.