Mintzberg's Management Roles

Identifying the Roles Managers Play

Mintzberg identified 10 management roles

Which roles do you play most often?

© iStockphoto/mstay

As a manager, you probably fulfill many different roles every day.

For instance, as well as leading your team, you might find yourself resolving a conflict, negotiating new contracts, representing your department at a board meeting, or approving a request for a new computer system.

Put simply, you're constantly switching roles as tasks, situations, and expectations change. Management expert and professor Henry Mintzberg recognized this, and he argued that there are ten primary roles or behaviors that can be used to categorize a manager's different functions.

In this article, we'll examine these roles and see how you can use your understanding of them to improve your management skills.

The Roles

Mintzberg published his Ten Management Roles in his book, "Mintzberg on Management: Inside our Strange World of Organizations," in 1990.

The ten roles are:

  1. Figurehead.
  2. Leader.
  3. Liaison.
  4. Monitor.
  5. Disseminator.
  6. Spokesperson.
  7. Entrepreneur.
  8. Disturbance Handler.
  9. Resource Allocator.
  10. Negotiator.

From MINTZBERG ON MANAGEMENT by Henry Mintzberg. Copyright © 1989 by Henry Mintzberg. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The 10 roles are then divided up into three categories, as follows:

Category Roles
Interpersonal Figurehead
Leader
Liaison
Informational Monitor
Disseminator
Spokesperson
Decisional Entrepreneur
Disturbance Handler
Resource Allocator
Negotiator

Let's look at each of the ten roles in greater detail.

Interpersonal Category

The roles in this category involve providing information and ideas.

  1. Figurehead – As a manager, you have social, ceremonial and legal responsibilities. You're expected to be a source of inspiration. People look up to you as a person with authority, and as a figurehead.
  2. Leader – This is where you provide leadership for your team, your department or perhaps your entire organization; and it's where you manage the performance and responsibilities of everyone in the group.
  3. Liaison – Managers must communicate with internal and external contacts. You need to be able to network effectively on behalf of your organization.

Informational Category

The roles in this category involve processing information.

  1. Monitor – In this role, you regularly seek out information related to your organization and industry, looking for relevant changes in the environment. You also monitor your team, in terms of both their productivity, and their well-being.
  2. Disseminator – This is where you communicate potentially useful information to your colleagues and your team.
  3. Spokesperson – Managers represent and speak for their organization. In this role you're responsible for transmitting information about your organization and its goals to the people outside it.

Decisional Category

The roles in this category involve using information.

  1. Entrepreneur – As a manager, you create and control change within the organization. This means solving problems, generating new ideas, and implementing them.
  2. Disturbance Handler – When an organization or team hits an unexpected roadblock, it's the manager who must take charge. You also need to help mediate disputes within it.
  3. Resource Allocator – You'll also need to determine where organizational resources are best applied. This involves allocating funding, as well as assigning staff and other organizational resources.
  4. Negotiator – You may be needed to take part in, and direct, important negotiations within your team, department, or organization.

Applying the Model

You can use Mintzberg's 10 Management Roles model as a frame of reference when you're thinking about developing your own skills and knowledge. (This includes developing yourself in areas that you consciously or unconsciously shy away from.)

First, examine how much time you currently spend on each role. Do you spend most of your day leading? Managing conflict? Disseminating information? This will help you decide which areas to work on first.

Next, get a piece of paper and write out all ten roles. Score yourself from 1-5 on each one, with 1 being "Very skilled" to 5 being "Not skilled at all."

Once you've identified your weak areas, use the following resources to start improving your abilities in each role.

Figurehead

Figureheads represent their teams. If you need to improve or build confidence in this area, start with your image, behavior, and reputation  . Cultivate humility   and empathy  , learn how to set a good example at work  , and think about how to be a good role model  .

Leader

This is the role you probably spend most of your time fulfilling. To improve here, start by taking our quiz, How Good Are Your Leadership Skills?   This will give you a thorough understanding of your current abilities.

Next, learn how to be an authentic leader  , so your team will respect you. Also, focus on improving your emotional intelligence   – this is an important skill for being an effective leader.

Liaison

To improve your liaison skills, work on your professional networking   techniques. You may also like to take our Bite-Sized Training course on Networking Skills.

Monitor

To improve here, learn how to gather information   effectively and overcome information overload  . Also, use effective reading strategies  , so that you can process material quickly and thoroughly, and learn how to keep up-to-date with industry news  .

Disseminator

To be a good disseminator you need to know how to share information and outside views effectively, which means that good communication skills are vital.

Learn how to share organizational information with Team Briefings  . Next, focus on improving your writing skills  . You might also want to take our communication skills quiz  , to find out where else you can improve.

Spokesperson

To be effective in this role, make sure that you know how to represent your organization at a conference  . You may also want to read our articles on delivering great presentations   and working with the media   (if applicable to your role).

Entrepreneur

To improve here, build on your change management   skills, and learn what not to do when implementing change   in your organization. You'll also need to work on your problem solving   and creativity skills  , so that you can come up with new ideas, and implement them successfully.

Disturbance Handler

In this role, you need to excel at conflict resolution   and know how to handle team conflict  . It's also helpful to be able to manage emotion in your team  .

Resource Allocator

To improve as a resource allocator, learn how to manage a budget  , cut costs  , and prioritize  , so that you can make the best use of your resources. You can also use VRIO Analysis   to learn how to get the best results from the resources available to you.

Negotiator

Improve your negotiation skills by learning about Win-Win Negotiation   and Distributive Bargaining  .

You might also want to read our article on role-playing   – this technique can help you prepare for difficult negotiations.

Key Points

Mintzberg's 10 Management Roles model sets out the essential roles that managers play. These are:

  1. Figurehead.
  2. Leader.
  3. Liaison.
  4. Monitor.
  5. Disseminator.
  6. Spokesperson.
  7. Entrepreneur.
  8. Disturbance Handler.
  9. Resource Allocator.
  10. Negotiator.

You can apply Mintzberg's 10 Management Roles model by using it as a frame of reference when you want to develop your management skills. Work on the roles that you fulfill most often as a priority, but remember that you won't necessarily fulfill every role as part of your job.

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Comments (2)
  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Anne_Laure

    Welcome to the Club and to the forums too - it's great to hear your voice over here.

    I think in many companies mentoring/coaching will be part of the leader role and also of the figurehead role. However, mentoring, coaching and developing staff are extremely important functions. In our Learning Stream called "Developing People" http://www.mindtools.com/community/LearningStreams/DevelopingPeople.php we have grouped together tools and articles related to the topic - you may find it interesting. If you'd like to discuss anything or ask questions about it, we'd be only too glad to engage in conversation.

    Anne_Laure, if you need any help around the forums, please don't hesitate to ask - I'd be only too glad to help and we hope to see you around often.

    Kind regards
    Yolandé
  • Anne_Laure wrote Over a month ago
    Hello,

    Thanks for the article, I found it very useful - both the description of the 10 roles and how to improve.
    However there is a very big part missing for me: developing/coaching/mentoring people in your team. I guess it is more or less in focus depending on the company, and it could be part of "leader" role but not completely.

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