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Jo Keeler

Belbin Associates


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What is a Manager?


Meredith gives us his views on what makes a manager.

"In my view, a manager is someone who has an overview of the work that needs to be undertaken and can delegate it to others in an appropriate way. Although it can be argued that management can be about looking after process, a true manager has to oversee others, deploy them in the most useful way and encourage personal development.

Following a comprehensive study at Henley Management College, in the 1970s, we identified nine separate behavioural styles that could be effective when contributing to team work. Over the last 30 years, I have been arguing that people should take on a style that suits their particular behaviours."

So, what Team Roles make for a good manager?

"Examining the results of our survey, it is clear to see that there is no single combination of Team Roles that makes a great manager. In purely numerical terms, the most effective manager had a top role of Co-ordinator, but the overall profile itself showed a wide Team Role spread. This goes to show that one can be effective in a variety of styles. The point is to be a good example of what you are. In other words, make the most of your natural talents.

When looking at the least effective manager, Shaper and Specialist figured the most strongly, and Teamworker the least strongly. This indicates that people do not appreciate managers who simply direct and bark orders based on their previous knowledge. Nor do they appreciate managers who lack humility and have a narrow outlook. However, it must be highlighted that some work situations demand a more direct approach – appreciated or not. Every situation demands a different combination of Team Roles to come to the fore.

Good communication appears in a general way as the principal asset of the most effective managers. Analysis of the figures shows they are seen as encouraging of others, broad in outlook and caring but also challenging. They also have higher than average scores in being creative, innovative and persuasive.

Conversely, the least effective managers appeared as inflexible, not interested in others and manipulative. Interestingly enough, the biggest differentiators between the most effective and least effective managers were the words co-operative, caring, adaptable or realistic. I have always claimed that good managers have a heightened sense of realism – being realistic about goals and their own abilities.

Whilst none of the range of listed qualities in isolation can make or break an effective manager, the overall results suggest that a facilitative manager is much preferred to a hard-line, micro-manager. The results suggest that the pursuit of high standards is perfectly possible and indeed desirable, provided these goals are pursued in a way that is acceptable to others.

Although it is an advantage to be a natural communicator, communication alone is not enough. Managers may need to make tough and sometimes unwelcome decisions but being caring is a necessary trait for managers to win acceptance. A general who does not care about his troops will not be able to win their support through difficult times.

And finally my tips for managers – be self-aware, take an interest in others, adapt to the specific demands of your situation and make the most of the human resources available."

Details of the Survey – What makes a good manager can be downloaded from: (


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Jo Keeler


Read more from Jo Keeler

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