Management roles depend on the formal authority and status of organizational positions. In performing the roles, the managers use their skills and characteristics. The nature of the manager’s work is divided into three main roles, in which ten roles are performed.

 Managers are the most valuable assets of an organization. They assemble resources, set goals, decide priorities, organize, and coordinate effort, and get things done through, and with people.

They are the ‘coordinators’ and ‘directors’ in the organization. They are the individuals charged with examining the workflow, coordinating efforts, meeting’ goals, and providing leadership.

The roles of a manger can be studied under the following heads:-


1. Interpersonal Roles 2. Informational Roles 3. Decisional Roles.

Some of the roles of a manager are:-

1. Figurehead Role 2. Leader Role 3. Liaison 4. Monitor Role 5. Disseminator Role 6. Spokesman 10. Entrepreneur 11. Disturbance Handler 12. Resource Allocator 13. Negotiator.

Roles of a Manager: By Henry Mintzberg – Interpersonal Roles, Informational Roles and Decisional Roles

Roles of a Manager – According to Mintzberg: Interpersonal Roles, Informational Roles and Decisional Roles

Henry Mintzberg has identified roles of managers to describe ‘what managers do’ in an organization. Role is the pattern of behaviour which is defined for different organizational positions.


According to Mintzberg, there are three broad categories of roles that a manager performs in an organization:

1. Interpersonal roles,

2. Informational roles, and

3. Decisional roles.


Within each category of roles, there are different types of roles.

Management roles depend on the formal authority and status of organizational positions. In performing the roles, the managers use their skills and characteristics.

1. Interpersonal Roles:

Interpersonal roles of a manager are concerned with his interacting with others, both within the organization and outsiders.

There are three types of interpersonal roles:


i. Figurehead Role,

ii. Leader Role and

iii. Liaison.

i. Figurehead Role- Figurehead role of a manager includes those activities which are of ceremonious and symbolic nature. These activities are greeting the visitors, attending social functions involving employees, and handing out merit certificates and other awards to outstanding employees.


ii. Leader Role- Leader role of a manager involves leading his subordinates and motivating them for willing and enthusiastic contribution. This type of contribution comes when subordinates see in a manager certain exemplifying behaviours.

iii. Liaison Role- Liaison role of a manager serves as a connecting link between his organization and outsiders or between his unit and other units of the organization. The major objective of liaison role is maintaining a link between the organization and its external environment.

2. Informational Roles:

Informational roles of a manager include communication — giving and receiving information — both within and outside the organization.

There are three types of informational roles:


i. Monitor role,

ii. Disseminator role, and

iii. Spokesperson.

i. Monitor Role- Monitor role of a manager is to constantly collect information about those factors which affect his activities. Such factors may be within the organization and outside it.

ii. Disseminator Role- Disseminator role of a manager involves sharing of information with his subordinates who may otherwise not be able in a position to collect it.

iii. Spokesperson- In the role of spokesperson, a manager represents his organization while interacting with outsiders — customers, financiers, suppliers, government, and other agencies of the society.

3. Decisional Roles:

Decisional roles of a manager involve making decisions resulting in choosing the most appropriate alternative out of the several alternatives so that when the chosen alternative is put into action, the organizational objectives are achieved.

There are four decisional roles:

i. Entrepreneur,

ii. Disturbance handler,

iii. Resource allocator, and

iv. Negotiator.

i. Entrepreneur- In performing entrepreneur role, a manager assumes certain risk which is involved in terms of outcomes of an action because these are affected by a variety of external factors. Since these factors are dynamic and change constantly, the manager is required to bring changes in the organizational processes to align these to the requirements of the environment.

ii. Disturbance Handler- As a disturbance handler, a manager is required to contain those forces and events which tend to disturb the organizational equilibrium and normal functioning. There are may many such forces and events like strike by employees, shortage of raw materials, etc.

iii. Resource Allocator- As a resource allocator, a manager allocates organizational resources of various types to different organizational units.

iv. Negotiator- As a negotiator, a manager negotiates with various interest groups in the organization — shareholders, employees, and outsiders.

Roles of a Manager – 10 Management Roles of a Manager: Figurehead, Leader, Liaison, Monitor, Disseminator, Spokesman, Entrepreneur and Negotiator

The ten roles explored in this theory have extensive explanations which are briefly developed here:

1. Figurehead – All social, inspiration, legal and ceremonial obligations. In this light, the manager is seen as a symbol of status and authority.

2. Leader – Duties are at the heart of the manager-subordinate relationship and include structuring and motivating subordinates, overseeing their progress, promoting and encouraging their development, and balancing effectiveness.

3. Liaison – Describes the information and communication obligations of a manager. One must network and engage in information exchange to gain access to knowledge bases.

4. Monitor – Duties include assessing internal operations, a department’s success and the problems and opportunities which may arise. All the information gained in this capacity must be stored and maintained.

5. Disseminator – Highlights factual or value based external views into the organisation and to subordinates. This requires both filtering and delegation skills.

6. Spokesman – Serves in a PR capacity by informing and lobbying others to keep key stakeholders updated about the operations of the organisation.

7. Entrepreneur – Roles encourage managers to create improvement projects and work to delegate, empower and supervise teams in the development process.

8. Disturbance Handler – A generalist role that takes charge when an organisation is unexpectedly upset or transformed and requires calming and support.

9. Resource Allocator – Describes the responsibility of allocating and overseeing financial, material and personnel resources.

10. Negotiator – Is a specific task which is integral for the spokesman, figurehead and resource allocator roles.

As a secondary filtering, Mintzberg distinguishes these roles by their responsibilities towards information. Interpersonal roles, categorised as the figurehead, leader and liaison, provide information. Informational roles link all managerial work together by processing information. These roles include the monitor, the disseminator and the spokesperson. All the remaining roles are decisional, in that they use information and make decisions on how information is delivered to secondary parties.

Generalist and Specialist Management:

The core of Mintzberg’s Ten Managerial Roles is that managers need to be both organisational generalists and specialists.

This is due to three reasons:

i. External frustrations including operational imperfections and environmental pressures.

ii. Authority disputes which upset even basic routines.

iii. The expected fallibility of the individual and human, manager.

Mintzberg’s summary statement may be that the role of a manager is quite varied and contradictory in its demands, and that it is therefore not always the lack of managerial prowess, but the complexity of individual situations demanding a variety of roles, which troubles today’s manager.

The ten roles, therefore, can be applied to any managerial situation where an examination of the levels to which a manager uses each of the ten ‘roles’ at his or her disposal is required.

There is a sizeable dose of cynicism in Mintzberg’s world view. Though, when asked, he is quick to add the explanatory coda – ‘I am sceptical about everything except reality.’ To keep hold of reality, he eschews the management guru merry go-round. ‘There is a lot of obnoxious hype about being a “guru” to the extent that the medium can destroy the message,’ he says, I’m in one of the most competitive fields around, but I’ve never felt competition for a moment. You can compete by competing head-on or by not competing at all. I care about doing things well, not doing them better that is a low standard.’

Mintzberg’s name was initially brought to a wider audience with his first book, The Nature of Managerial Work (1973). An article in the Harvard Business Review (The Manager’s Job – Folklore and Fact’) brought Mintzberg’s research further into the public eye. Its origins (and those of subsequent books) lie in Mintzberg’s grand plan. ‘In 1968, I set out to write a text called The Theory of Management Policy, to draw together the research-based literature that helps lo describe the processes of general management.’

At the time of its publication, The Nature of Managerial Work was radically alternative and rapidly dispensed with much conventional wisdom. ‘I had a lot of difficulty getting my first book published’, Mintzberg recalls. ‘One publisher said they were publishing a book just like it – 20 years later, I have yet to see the book.’

In his research, Mintzberg got close to managers actually managing rather than pontificating from afar. His research involved spending time with five organizations and analysing how their chief executives spent their time. While this tracking approach is now commonplace, in the early 1970s it was ambitious previous research had concentrated on the people managed by managers and the structure of organizations rather than the day-to-day reality of managerial behaviour and performance.

The Nature of Managerial Work revealed managers to be hostages to interruptions, flitting from subject-to-subject rarely giving undivided attention to anything. ‘The pressure of the managerial environment does not encourage the development of reflective planners, the classical literature notwithstanding,’ Mintzberg observed.

‘The job breeds adaptive information-manipulators who prefer the live, concrete situation. The manager works in an environment of stimulus-response, and he develops in his work a clear preference for live action.’ Instead of being isolated figureheads analysing and generating carefully thought-out strategy, managers were suddenly exposed as fallible and human.

Mintzberg’s research led him to identify ten key managerial roles split into three categories:

1. Interpersonal:

i. The figurehead role where the manager performs symbolic duties as head of the organization;

ii. The leader role where he/she establishes the work atmosphere and motivates subordinates to act;

iii. The liaison role where the manager develops and maintains webs of contacts outside the organization.

2. Informational:

i. The monitor role where the manager collects all types of information relevant and useful to the organization;

ii. The disseminator role where the manager gives other people the information they need to make decisions;

iii. The spokesman role where the manager transmits information to the outside world.

3. Decisional:

i. The entrepreneur role where the manager initiates controlled change in the organization to adapt to the changing environment;

ii. The disturbance handler where the manager deals with the unexpected changes;

iii. The resource allocator role where the manager makes decisions on the use of organizational resources;

iv. The negotiator role where the manager deals with other organizations and individuals.

These neat categories should not disguise the challenge put out in The Nature of Managerial Work. The corollary of Mintzberg’s conclusions was that if we don’t understand how managers spend their time and what they do, how can management be improved and the skills of managers appropriately developed?

Twenty years on, Mintzberg’s style and approach has remained determinedly iconoclastic. ‘My books succeeded because they were different,’ he says. ‘If you think differently and execute it poorly you are dead.’

His background in mechanical engineering might explain the root of Mintzberg’s techniques and thinking. ‘Mechanical engineering is not concerned with image or status. It is about reality and requires a certain kind of thinking,’ he says, recalling a college assignment to design a pump.

While all the other students went away and looked at the latest catalogues to copy a design, Mintzberg didn’t look at anything and came up with a pump virtually identical to pumps when they were first invented. In his later research, Mintzberg also seeks to re-invent or establish first principles for himself.

‘I am not an intellectual. I am a writer and researcher,’ he says. ‘I write primarily for myself, to find things out. I never write anything to boost my reputation or image – sometimes it is appropriate to publish something in the Harvard Business Review. When I am writing, the painful stage is getting an outline and then there is joy when things click and integrate.’

After his initial success, Mintzberg’s focus shifted to organizational structure.

In the Structure of Organizations he identified five types of ‘ideal’ organizational structure:

i. Simple structure

ii. Machine bureaucracy

iii. Professional bureaucracy

iv. Divisional zed form

v. Adhocracy.

Even so, at the core of Mintzberg’s work is a belief in the excitement and spontaneity of management and faith in people rather than organizations ‘I don’t like to be organized – I am a voyeur’. He has little time for the formal dictates of the organization. ‘We have become prisoners of cerebral management. I’m sympathetic to the management process which is intuitive, based on immediate responses,’ he says.

Instead of seeing strategy as the apotheosis of rationalism Mintzberg has famously coined the term ‘Grafting strategy’, whereby strategy is created as deliberately, delicately and dangerously as a potter making a pot. To Mintzberg strategy is more likely to ’emerge’, through a kind of organizational osmosis, than be produced by a group of strategists sitting round a table believing they can predict the future.

Mintzberg regards full-time MBA programmes as perpetuating the obsession with ‘cerebral management’. He no longer teaches on MBA programmes and contentiously advises – ‘Regular MBA programmes should be closed down. It’s the wrong way to train people who weren’t managers to become managers. MBA programmes are confused between training leaders and specialists. At the moment, we train financial analysts and then expect them to become leaders. If accountants were forbidden to be chief executives it would probably be an enormous benefit.

‘Mintzberg argues there is more to business success (and life) than MBAs. ‘To be superbly successful you have to be a visionary – someone with a very novel vision of the world and a real sense of where they are going. If you have that you can get away with murder. Alternatively, success can come if you are a true empowerer of people, are empathetic and sensitive.

Often, visionaries create companies and success is continued by empowerers.’ These, lie makes clear, are not qualities which conventional MBA programmes are likely to nurture. ‘Conventional MBA programmes mostly attract neither very creative nor very generous people and the end result is trivial strategists who sit in their offices and look for case studies.’

His most recent work takes on the full might of conventional orthodoxy, countering the carefully wrought arguments of strategists, from Igor Ansoff in the 1960s to the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s and Michael Porter in the 1980s. ‘Too much analysis gets in our way. The failure of strategic planning is the failure of formalization. We are mesmerized by our ability to programme things,’ says Mintzberg, identifying formalization as the fatal flaw of modern management.

The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning is a masterly and painstaking since 1968 de-construction of central pillars of management theory. Arguing that ‘strategy is not the consequence of planning but the opposite – its starting point’, Mintzberg exposes the fallacies and failings at the root of planning.

These include:

i. Processes – A fascination with elaborate processes creates bureaucracy and strangles innovation.

ii. Data – Mintzberg argues that ‘hard’ data, the lifeblood of the traditional strategist, is a source of information; ‘soft’ data, however, provides the wisdom. ‘Hard information can be no better and is often at times far worse than soft information,’ he writes. In The Nature of Managerial Work, Mintzberg similarly observed that managers relied on ‘soft information’ rather than exhaustive written reports.

iii. Detachment – Mintzberg refutes the notion of managers creating strategic plans from ivory towers. ‘Effective strategists are not people who abstract themselves from the daily detail but quite the opposite – they are the ones who immerse themselves in it, while being able to abstract the strategic messages from it.’

Looking at the development of his work, Mintzberg observes – ‘My perception of what constitutes effective management is not so different as it was. But now there is a lot more ineffective management.’ In The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, he produces a typical paragraph (on the role of the effective strategist) which has the air of someone thinking aloud, but perhaps sums up Mintzberg’s own approach – ‘Perceiving the forest from the trees is not the right metaphor at all because opportunities tend to be hidden under the leaves. A better one may be to detect a diamond in the rough in a seam of ore. Or to mix the metaphors, no one ever found a diamond by flying over a forest. From the air, a forest looks like a simple carpet of green, not the complex living system it really is.’

Roles of a Manager – 3 Major Roles: Interpersonal Role, Decisional Role and Informational Role

The nature of the manager’s work is divided into three main roles, in which ten roles are performed.

The three main roles are:

1. Interpersonal Role:

Relates to the manager’s contacts and dealing with other people.

In this, three types of roles are identified:

i. Role of a figure head – This is a ceremonial role where a manager has to perform certain duties, such as, greeting the visiting celebrities, receiving important customers etc.; He performs the role of a head of a particular unit.

ii. Liaison role – In this role, he establishes relations with outside world to collect information useful for his organization. This responsibility also arises out of his status.

iii. Leadership role – In this role, the manager has to communicate with his subordinates, motivate them, and activities them to work in pursuit of desired objectives or set goals.

2. Decisional Role:

The manager has unique access to information and his special position and authority enables him to occupy a certain position in the organization.

His decisional roles are:

i. Entrepreneur – In this role, the manager has to keep watch for new business opportunities and adopt the organization to the changing conditions. As an entrepreneur, the manager thinks of new ideas, like, new product ideas, innovative marketing methods, sound financial operations etc.

ii. Stabilizer – In this role, he acts as a disturbance handler. He should take quick decisions in the case of a crisis to maintain stability in the organization. The manager at any level should be capable of handling any type of disturbance.

E.g., to handle a sudden strike, sudden change in behavior of a customer etc.

iii. Resource Allocator – Proper allocation of resources, such as, monetary, technical and human resources is also an important task before the manager. The scarce resources are to be allocated correctly to get the full advantage of production and sales.

iv. Negotiator – In this role, the manager has to interact with many persons and organizations for the smooth running of the business.

E.g., negotiate with Trade Union Leaders, with foreign organizations, inter-departments, interactions between managers of different departments etc.

3. Informational Role:

The manager plays the role of a specific information officer. He gets a lot of information in the capacity of a figure-head, a liaison executive and as a leader and so is considered as a nerve-centre of information of his organization, his information roles are-

i. Monitor role – As a monitor, the manager has to receive all sorts of information, examine its relevance, focus on strong points, neutralize weak links, overcome difficulties and establish team spirit for smooth How of work in the organization.

ii. Disseminator’s role – In this role, the manager has to transit some of the collected information to the people in his organization.

e.g., a competitor is planning a new product, this information is to be given to the top management.

iii. Spokesman’s role – In this role, he transmits information to outsiders on the organization’s plan, policies, actions etc.

e.g., talk to groups of trade union people not of his own organization or present issues to Government or other outside agencies etc.

All the roles have been performed uniformly, none can be neglected. These roles help the manager to understand the job of managing, teamwork and effective time management.

Roles of a Manager – 3 Important Roles: Interpersonal Roles, Informational Roles and Decisional Roles

Managerial role stands for the specific pattern of behaviour associated with the managerial task. Henry Mintzberg conducted a comprehensive study of the nature of managerial roles in 1973.

Based on his study of the activities of five practicing chief executives, Mintzberg generalized his description of the nature of managerial work in actual practice. His findings give a complete picture of what a manager actually does. Mintzberg stressed that managing is an integrated activity and hence the managerial roles are intertwined.

Mintzberg identified ten basic roles performed by managers and classified them under three heads:

1. Inter personal,

2. Informational,

3. Decisional.

While interpersonal roles deal with people, informational roles deal with knowledge. Decisional roles are concerned with taking decisions which affect the future of the organisation.

The Managerial roles are as follows:

1. Interpersonal Roles:

A manager plays the following interpersonal roles:

a. As a Figure Head:

In this role, a manager performs symbolic duties required by the stations of his office. He represents the organisation at community events. He has to sign various documents, make speeches, welcome official visitors, distribute gifts to retiring employees, bestow honors and attend social functions of the subordinates.

b. As a Leader:

This role defines his relationship with his own subordinates. A manager serves as a leader of the group. He trains, encourages, motivates, inspires, remunerates, judges and guides his subordinates. A manager sets an example, legitimises the powers of subordinates and brings their needs in accord with those of his organisation.

c. As a Liaison:

A manager acts as a liaison between outsiders and the organisation. He maintains mutually beneficial relations with other organisations, governments, industry groups etc.

2. Informational Roles:

The informational roles found by Mintzberg are:

a. As a Monitor:

A manager seeks and receives information about his organisation and the outside environment. This information is collected through reports, periodicals, personal contacts, observational tours etc. He observes, collects and reviews data on the meeting of standards.

b. As a Disseminator:

It involves transmitting information and judgment to the members of the organisation. A manager regularly informs his subordinates about the goals and direction of the organisation. He transmits information received from outsiders and insiders to other members of the organisation. He forwards mail and review sessions with his subordinates.

c. As a Spokesman:

In this role, a manager speaks for his organisation. He lobbies and defends his enterprise and transmits information to outsiders on organisation plans, policies and actions. He conducts board meetings, handles mail and engages in public relations. He transmits information through letters, telephone calls or personal meetings.

He speaks for his subordinates to superiors and represents upper management to subordinates.

3. Decisional Roles:

A manager has to take decisions regarding sources of funds, arranging of various inputs, marketing strategies etc. His decisional role includes the role of an Entrepreneur, Disturbance Handler, Resource Allocator and Negotiator.

a. As an Entrepreneur:

As an entrepreneur, a manager has to initiate changes or to act as an agent of change. He authorizes action, sets goals, formulates plans and discovers problems. Being innovative he has to design improvement projects that direct and control change in the organisation.

b. As a Disturbance Handler:

A manager has to take charge when the organisation faces unexpected crises like a strike, feud between subordinates, resignation of subordinates, loss of an important customer etc. He handles conflicts, complaints and competitive actions and maintains cordial relations in the organisation.

c. As a Resource Allocator:

As a resource allocator, a manager approves budgets, schedules and programmes and sets priorities. He allocates human, monetary and material resources. He looks into the demands of various segments and take necessary actions.

d. As a Negotiator:

A manager bargains with customers, suppliers, dealers, trade union agents and negotiates with them. The rates may be fixed with customer, the prices may be negotiated with suppliers, the purchase of various assets may be negotiated with manufactures.

He also deals with the trade unions on various issues. There may be other issues which require negotiations by the manager.

Mintzberg model of managerial roles describes what a manager does, but not what he should do. It also provides significant insights into the problems and issues involved in managing. But, his approach is not universally applicable.