Manager Mindsets

In a 2003 article in Harvard Business Review, the article titled “The Five Minds of a Manager” written by Jonathan Gosling and Henry Mintzberg, the authors address the question of the mindset of managers. The authors believe that there is too much emphasis on Leadership and not enough on Management within most organizations today when they write:

Nobody aspires to being a good manager anymore; everybody wants to be a great leader. But the separation of management from leadership is dangerous. Just as management without leadership encourages an uninspired style, which deadens activities, leadership without management encourages a disconnected style, which promotes hubris (Gosling & Mintzberg, 2003).

The article continues on to discuss the need for better management via ‘managerial mind-sets’. These mind-sets, five in all, are described in detail in the article and are briefly described below.

  • Reflective Mind-set: allows managers to be thoughtful and see familiar experiences in a new light.
  • Analytical Mind-set: ensures that managers make decisions based on quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Worldly Mind-set: provides managers with cultural and social insights to assist with operating in multi-cultural environments.
  • Collaborative Mind-set: enables managers to build relationships among teams and individuals
  • Action Mind-set: energizes managers to create and expedite the best plans for achieving objectives.

I think the authors do a very good job outlining these five ‘mind-sets’ and it does appear that they actually understand that any manager trying to implement them must keep in mind that overdoing any of them would be doing a disservice to themselves and their team. The article overlooks the fact that most of the ideas presented are really nothing more than common sense approaches to management.All managers should understand that they need to approach every situation with a mixture of all parts of the five mind-sets.

Part of the problem with management in the modern world is that a lot of the training that has been developed (think MBA programs) have produced graduates with little knowledge of how to manage and lead people in the real world. MBA graduates, for example, have been well trained in the systems and processes of doing business but the softer skills of dealing with people are normally overlooked in most MBA programs. Perhaps more thought needs to be put into how to create manager/leaders who can function in the real world and still have the overall business background that an MBA provides.

In closing, I’d like to offer up one of the more succinct definitions of management and leadership from Lisa Haneberg’s excellent blog in her post titled “Leadership is not a job“:

Management is a set of methods and practices “a regimen“ that allows us to run a business or a piece of the business. Management is a job. Leadership is not a job; i’s the way we do our jobs. Imagine four peer managers sitting in a meeting together discussing the progress of a major project.

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