Managing | Henry Mintzberg

Summary of: Managing
By: Henry Mintzberg


In ‘Managing’, Henry Mintzberg dispels common myths and misconceptions about the roles and responsibilities of managers. By exploring the nature of management as a practice combining elements of art, craft, and science, Mintzberg provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of the field. Central to the book are the challenges faced by managers, their need to cultivate various management skills, the importance of context and experience, and the pitfalls of overly narrow definitions of what it means to be a leader and manager.

Management – A Practice

Managers often start their jobs knowing little about their function, but with experience, they learn to combine the art, science and profession of management. Management itself is a practice that blends all three elements.

Myths about Management Skills

Forget Everything You Know About Management Skills

The common myths about management and leadership skills have distorted our understanding of what it truly takes to be a great manager. The first myth is that leadership and management are mutually exclusive skills, when in reality, effective managers must be able to lead and vice versa. The second myth is that management is a profession- something you can learn from a book. However, management is a craft; one that can only be gained through experience. Lastly, it is a myth that management skills must change as the workplace changes. The truth is, management is about managing human behavior, which has remained unchanged over time.

Furthermore, many people believe that managers are reflective, systematic planners who depend on formal management information systems. In reality, most managers don’t have the time for such luxuries, and instead, rely on informal sources such as telephone calls, e-mails, and meetings. They are action-oriented, and their activities are often brief, diverse, and fragmented. Organizational charts do not provide an accurate reflection of managers’ relationships, as their lateral relationships with colleagues are actually more important. Lastly, the belief that managers must maintain tight control is a myth. Instead, managers are like conductors of an orchestra, working tirelessly to maintain harmony while unexpected challenges arise.

In conclusion, for one to be a great manager, they must have both leadership and management skills. The only way to learn the craft of management is through experience, and as much as the workplace has evolved, the fundamentals of human behavior have remained the same. Effective managers are always on the move, relying on their informal networks, communicating with their colleagues, and being adaptable to changes in their environment.

The essential duties of a manager

A manager’s job is to ensure that their team meets their goals while performing at their best. This responsibility includes overseeing multiple activities, such as controlling, doing, dealing, thinking, leading, and deciding. Managers must move from theoretical to practical and interpersonal as they work on information, people, and actions. The CEO, being the top manager, leads large divisions in the organization to achieve broad goals.

Essential Organizational Skills for Managers

Effective managing requires a blend of art, craft and science. Managers need to communicate with others within and outside of the organization to set up control systems, assign projects, make final decisions, allocate resources, and set objectives. They act as the nerve centers of their units by acquiring information through observation and communication to direct their subordinates to take action. It is essential for managers to ensure their employees have the information they need to do their jobs.

The Responsibilities of Managers

Managers play a crucial role in unifying and energizing teams while fostering an organizational culture. Besides, they are responsible for building and managing external relationships for their organizations. Effective managers motivate and develop their teams while serving as the unit’s spokesperson or buffer against external influences.

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