Licensee Badge
Submitted by rbrace on


Great show guys.

Bottom line up front...  What is the purpose of a manager?

My company is formalizing an IT supervisory role.  The stated goal of the role is to 'groom supervisors for future managerial duties'.   Given that clear statement (definitely not an MT goal), I asked 'What does this mean?'. 

4 managers around the table = 4 different answers.  It seems my organization is unclear as to their definition of "manager". 

This experience got me to thinking about other organizations and whether there was an underlying universal definition of "manager" (kinda like a unified theory of relativity).  Since definition generally arises from clear purpose, I pose my question...

What is the purpose of a manager?

I've seen generalized answers.  e.g. "A manager is what a manager does."  (Doesn't defining a manager within the context of a manager violate some fundamental law of the universe?).  However, I'm interested in what you have to say on the topic (as it applies to Manager Tools). 

I don't know if there is an answer, but the question seems fundamental to this exploration of "manager" and should make for an interesting dialog (maybe a future podcast).


BJ_Marshall's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I remember hearing on one of the podcasts - can anyone refresh my memory? - that no one would need managers if everyone did what they said they were going to do when they said they were going to do it. I think "at an acceptable quality level" was implied in there, too.

To make your question less rhetorical and more actionable, I'd say, "As a manager, you do what makes your group and your boss look awesome."

"Manager is as manager does" sounds a bit too Forrest Gumpy to me: "Life is like a box of poorly done performance reviews; you never know what you're gonna get."

- BJ

stephenbooth_uk's picture

"A manager is a person employed to faccilitate and direct the activities of their staff to deliver to the goals of the company."

Obviously this is only the 'Pure Manager' (i.e. only does management, if such a role really exists) or the manager part of a 'Working Manager' (does management plus other things).  I do think it relates directly to what Mark calls the 'Servant Manager'.

Google cites a number of other definitions.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

A manager's purpose is to maximize the effectiveness of his organization in service of the organization's goals.


fchalif's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge



The purpose is to communicate to\with\through all stakeholders relative to your teams' role in your organization's success.

Communication is the service you provide.


Sean McGinnis's picture

I was told once by a very smart man I admire that the definition of management was "achieving your objectives through others".

I like Mark's definition too....



jbdoggett's picture

While stage managing, I've come to learn my role is to help the actors fulfill the vision of the director and realized this concept applies to management in general. My translation to business terms was

     Management is helping people to work effectively to further specific organizational goals.

Of course, this is essentially the same as Mark and Stephen's definitions.  I like Mark saying "to maximize the effectiveness" rather than just to be effective.








mlin's picture

I agree with Mark's definition that the purpose of management is to maximize the effectiveness of your organization.  That's as direct as you can get.  Some people will tell you that management is making sure people do their work, or making your employees happy, or planning for the future, or reducing costs.  Most of what other people define as management are methods or techniques -- not the actual purpose.

I think it's worth it to say that nobody ever really maximizes their organization's effectiveness.  The better a manager your are, the closer you get.  So in my eyes, from a practical standpoint a manager's goal is to increase the effectiveness of her team so that they get more done with her than without.  And she needs to increase it by an amount that's greater than the cost of employing her, otherwise her role is a strain on rather than an asset to the organization.

This is a particularly interesting question for me.  Two years after I graduated from college, a colleague asked me whether or not I had a good manager.  I thought about it for a minute, and my reply was, "How would i know?  I don't really know what a manager does or is supposed to do."  This was after two years of full-time work in an office environment.

Fast-forward six years, and I'm only now realizing the general purpose of management.  I wonder how many other folks out there are as clueless as me.  I'm guessing a lot more than you'd imagine.