Roles of a Manager – Theory

Cite this article as:"Roles of a Manager – Theory," in The Business Professor, updated April 1, 2020, last accessed October 27, 2020,

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What are the Roles of Managers?

Taylor laid the groundwork for understanding the general functions of the manager. Henry Mintzberg, in his text The Nature of Managerial Work (1973), built upon the P-O-L-C model by identifying the primary roles played by a manager.

Managers assume roles in carrying out their core functions. A “role” is an organized set of behaviors that are related to the manager’s responsibilities. Mintzberg identified 10 common managerial roles and categorized them as:

  • Interpersonal – The interpersonal relationships of the manager. The interpersonal roles ensure that information is provided.
    • Figurehead role – The manager represents the organization in all matters of formality.
    • Supervisor – The manager represents the workgroup to higher management and higher management to the workgroup.
    • Liaison role – The manager interacts with peers and people outside the organization. The top-level manager uses the liaison role to gain favors and information, while the supervisor uses it to maintain the routine flow of work.
  • Informational – The informational roles link all managerial work together.
    • Monitor – The manager receives and collects information.
    • Disseminator – The manager transmits special information into the organization.
    • Spokesperson – The manager disseminates the organization’s information into its environment.
  • Decisional – The decisional roles make significant use of the information.
    • Entrepreneur Role – The manager initiates change.
    • Disturbance Handler – The manager deals with threats to the organization.
    • Resource Allocator – The manager chooses where the organization will expand its efforts.
    • Negotiator – The manager negotiates on behalf of the organization.

The top-level manager makes the decisions about the organization as a whole, while the supervisor makes decisions about his or her particular work unit.

The supervisor performs these managerial roles but with a different emphasis than higher managers. For example, supervisory management is more focused and short-term in outlook, while senior management focuses on long-term mission and strategy.

Thus, the figurehead role becomes less significant and the disturbance handler and negotiator roles increase in importance for the supervisor. Since leadership permeates all activities, the leader role is among the most important of all roles at all levels of management.

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