a blue banner with "5 minds of a manager" in white text accompanied by five head silhouettes with a thought bubble, two charts, a world, two hands shaking, and an action board in one of each of them

by Elisabeth White | 3 Minute Read

The Five Minds of a Manager by Jonathan Gosling and Henry Mintzberg first appeared in the November 2003 Harvard Business Review. Nearly 20 years later, the managerial mind-set concept is still extremely helpful. Identifying the mind-set of those we are working with and/or coaching can lead to better conversation, collaboration, and consensus.

Most Managers and Leaders have a strength or natural tendency to one of the five minds of a manager. If we can identify that strength, we can cater our conversation and collaboration to that mind-set. We can also identity our personal strength or natural tendency and identify when we need to leave our comfort zone to meet our audience where they are. Below is a brief illustration of the five minds of a manager. Which managerial mind-set best describes the Managers and Leaders you are working with? Which managerial mind-set resonates with your own management style?

Managing Self: The Reflective Managerial Mind-Set

a yellow head with a thought bubbleThe mind-set of the Reflective Manager constantly processes and reflects on the possible impact of their decisions on themselves and on others. They ask themselves, what am I going to gain from this interaction? Reflective managers are internally focused, pensive, and thoughtful. They weigh the outcome of every decision. If you are dealing with a reflective Manager or Leader, they may be slow to respond simply because they are playing out every possible outcome in their mind.

Managing Organizations: The Analytic Managerial Mind-Set

a green head with two charts in itThe mindset of the Analytical Manager is driven by data. They are looking for facts, figures, and data points. Before deciding or acting, the Analytical Manager will want statistics, charts, and graphs to work through the situation. When engaging with an Analytical Manager, speak their language. It will help build the relationship if you can meet them where they are and provide factual data; they need to trust the information that you’re sharing before truly engaging.

Managing Context: The Worldly Managerial Mind-Set

a grey head with a world in itThe mindset of the Worldly Manager is filled with possibilities for the future. They do not live in the now. Next week might be on their radar, but 5 years from now, they know where both of you are going. When you meet with the Worldly Manager, make sure you can provide that big picture they are looking for. Acknowledge their 5-year plan while still grounding them in the conversation for today. Do not lose sight of where you are trying to take them and the conversation— tie it back to that worldly vision. This approach will keep them be excited for the now and for the future.

Managing Relationships: The Collaborative Managerial Mind-Set

a purple head with two hands shakingThe mindset of the Collaborative Manager is filled with questions about how they can connect with you and work with you. They are relational, high-EQ professionals with the need to connect. They want to collaborate. When working with the Collaborative Manager, be respectful. Do not dominate the conversation and let them share. Be ready for questions. If they ask, “What do you think?” have an answer at the ready.

Managing Change: The Action Managerial Mind-Set

a blue head with a black action board in itThe mindset of the Action Manager is filled with activity. They are ready to execute and shoot from the hip. When they hear an idea, they want to go for it. In fact, they want to act on all possible opportunities. When you meet with this type of mind-set, have your action plan ready. Otherwise, they could go Wild West and things can easily become chaotic. Make sure you have good guardrails and parameters in the conversation so you can stay on task and on topic.

Call to Action

Experiment! When engaging in conversation, collaboration, coaching, and consensus building, take into consideration the managerial mind-set of those around you. Then, consider adjusting your approach to better align with the mind-set of the Managers and Leaders you are working with. Identify personal growth opportunities by being prepared to work with all five managerial mind-sets.