Omnipotent and Symbolic Views of Managers

Cite this article as:"Omnipotent and Symbolic Views of Managers," in The Business Professor, updated April 1, 2020, last accessed October 20, 2020,

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What are the Two Major Views of Managers?

Members of an organization and third parties (outside of the organization) generally view managers in two ways:

  • Omnipotent View – The omnipotent view of managers is that the manager is “all-knowing”. She has total control over the organization’s mission and operations. That is, the manager is the visionary who steers all aspects of the organization. Thus, she is individually responsible for the performance of the organization. If an organization is successful or unsuccessful, the result is largely due to the efforts taken or decisions made by the high-level managers. Pursuant to this logic, the quality of an organization is synonymous with the quality of its managers. A common concept associated with the omnipotent view is the “Halo Effect”.
  • Symbolic Views – This view is in direct contrast to the omnipotent view. It says that the role of high-level management is largely symbolic. Managers have a limited effect on the organization achieving its goals or objectives. While the adequate performance of management responsibilities has an effect on organizational performance, the manager’s activities are not the driving force behind strong organizational performance. It recognizes that there are many environmental factors (economic, political, legal, competitive, consumer-based, technological, etc.) that affect the performance of the organization that is outside of the control of managers. Thus managers are not individually responsible for the success or failure of the organization. Lots of factors contribute to the quality of an organization.

To a certain extent, both views have validity depending upon the organization, the manager, and the internal and external environments in which the organization exists.

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