The five duties of a manager

Management at its most basic, is about clarifying an organisation’s purpose and empowering its people to achieve performance.

But what are the key duties of a manager? Here are five, collated from available research and our own management consulting experience.


Above all else, good managers have the mindset of a servant leader. Placing the needs of the organisation and its people above one’s self. Focusing on what needs to be done, not what one wants to do.

Too often, organisations are misdirected by the ego, passion and affections of their leaders. Personalities and personal preferences rather then authentic purpose.

Servant leadership, on the other hand, demands the right amount of humility to understand the correct direction and the self-confidence and fortitude to pursue it.


Good managers watch and listen to the what’s happening inside the organisation and, just as importantly, to the outside.

There is a remarkable link between successful managers and the attention they pay to their environment…with a genuine learning mindset.

For only if managers stay constantly attuned to the ever changing world around them can they truly understand how to navigate through it.


Good communication encompasses various factors. It requires authenticity – and by that we mean the truth – always! Appropriate information exchange, not dangerous over-sharing at the one extreme or withholding actionable data on other. Good manners is another critical requirement for managers: to be able to express one’s self well, without threats or extreme emotion; and to include the human person and their needs in the context of every engagement. It is the manager’s responsibility to be understood. Good communication requires discipline and patience.


People like to trust and be trusted. There is no better way to make this a reality than for a manager to empower her or his people. Empowerment is not delegation. It is far more comprehensive and engaging. It requires understanding a person well enough to maximise their strengths and to make their weaknesses irrelevant. It’s about creating a learning environment that stretches people to perform to their optimum without leaving them burnt-out, vulnerable or setting them up for failure.


Finally, good managers need to consistently challenge the performance status quo. How can we improve performance? How can we do things better? What should we stop doing or do less of, and what should we start doing or do more of?

Accomplishing the above is easier said than done. A good exercise is to seek feedback, review past actions regularly, and spend time in reflective thought. A mentor can be invaluable too.