What does it mean to think like a manager? This aspect is often overlooked. We usually tell people to be great leaders rather than managers. However, separating management and leadership can be risky. Leadership without management can lead to arrogance, while management without leadership results in an uninspired style.
One challenge with management is the clash of instructions. Managers are told to think globally and act locally, work together, and compete. They need to bring about change while maintaining order and focus on numbers while caring for their employees. To be effective, managers must balance these opposing objectives. This highlights that they need to focus not only on the tasks at hand but also on how they approach their thinking. Managers need various mindsets.
The Mindsets of Managers
Many businesses know how to get things done but struggle to assess their situations. Others become overwhelmed by problems and can’t act quickly. Within the same company, different departments may have opposite mindsets.
These two components define the boundaries of management: everything a competent manager does is between action on the ground and abstract thought. Reflection without action is passive, while action without reflection is thoughtless. Managers need to blend these two mindsets to function at the intersection of contemplative thinking and practical action.
Managers need a variety of mindsets to interpret and deal with the world. There are five ways managers interpret and deal with the world, each with its dominating aim:
- Self-management: The reflective mindset.
- Organizational management: The analytic mindset.
- Managing context: A worldly perspective.
- Relationship management: A collaborative mindset.
- Change management: The action mindset.
Each mindset is an attitude, a mental state allowing managers to see new possibilities. Incorrect use of these mindsets can lead to issues.
Reflective managers take a step back to thoughtfully assess their experiences. They respect history, understanding that successful visions are crafted from past experiences. Reflective managers value the past to use the present for a better future.
Analytical Mindset in Organizational Management
Analysis means “to let go.” It breaks down complicated events into smaller parts, enabling organization and understanding. Analytical thinking is crucial for organizational management, providing a vocabulary for organizing and performance measures. Decisions based on analysis require consideration of both numbers and soft data.
Worldly Mindset: Managing Context
Worldly managers understand that the globe is diverse, and globalization assumes a level of behavioral similarity that isn’t always accurate. Worldly managers spend time physically and metaphorically in diverse environments. Managing context involves negotiating the areas where the organization intersects with various worlds—cultures, industries, and businesses.
Collaborative Mindset in Relationship Management
A collaborative mindset focuses on relationships. Engaging managers listen more, inspire collaboration, and empower others. Collaboration goes beyond empowerment into commitment, and managers encourage ordinary people to lead.
Action Mindset for Managing Change
Managing change requires understanding the organization’s emotions, aspirations, and motives. It’s about delicately guiding the team, understanding the terrain, and maintaining direction. Enthusiastic action is required, but it involves staying curious, observant, and trying new things. Change and consistency are both learning experiences.
Bringing Different Mindsets Together
These mindsets aren’t rigid clusters but classifications that overlap. Effective managers weave these mindsets to build a durable fabric. Thinking before acting, reflecting, collaborating, analyzing, and taking action—all contribute to the organization’s collective success. Companies tailor results by weaving the diverse mindsets of their managers into a harmonious whole.