The Many Mindsets Of A Good Manager

illustration for cover of article - woman office manager completing numerous tasks, by Office Libations

To explain the job title of a manager, any manager, is no easy task to perform.

If you were to ask someone how to do a receptionist’s job, they’ll most likely give you a laundry list of tasks expected of a typical receptionist.

Answer phone calls.

Greet visitors in a polite and respectful manner.

Keep the office clean.

Carry out daily tasks with the utmost level of attention

And of course, maintain the peace.

The first description to come to mind isn’t usually about creating moments of truths or representing the face of the company. Otherwise, the official title would be ‘director of first impressions’ as opposed to the plain old ‘receptionist.’

Same goes for a manager role. It’s easier to say that a manager’s duty is to manage people than it is to say that they are profound leaders that motivate their team to achieve results.

‘Be a better boss!’ they say. ‘Do this, it will make you a better leader!’ they also say. As if it was as easy as pouring yourself a stiff drink.

The point is, there’s more to a job than what we see on the surface. The trick is to identify the underlying foundation and mindset that truly allows a person to do great in their career.

3 Key Mindsets Of A Great Manager

You may hear about great leaders capable of delivering the most moving speeches worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. Role models that have achieved great feats of intelligence that will impact the industry for years to come.

These people all have one thing in common. They go beyond that which is the cookie-cutter formula for what’s considered a great ‘leader’ or a great ‘anything’ for that matter.

They take on a different mindset. One which will impact the way they look at their job and one which will impact how they execute their duties.

Now think of a manager role as an iceberg.

You know how the saying goes, there’s always more to a story than what’s on the tip of the iceberg and the saying is 100% correct.

Everyone knows a manager technically ‘manages’ people, but this is the stuff on the surface that everyone looks at.

Underneath is where the foundation and the underlying values are that support the surface level stuff on top.  

The Servant Mindset

Image of a manager with a servant leadership mindset

This mindset is exactly as it sounds.

You’re putting others’ needs above your own.

The origin of the ‘servant leadership‘ concept came from a man by the name of Robert Greenleaf.

According to Greenleaf, the traditional structure of an organization would have the organization serving their leaders.

In a true servant leadership style, the tables are turned. It now becomes a leader’s responsibility to serve their organization.

This means treating your staff as if they were your biggest customers. It also means building a sense of empathy that makes it easier to relate to your staff.

This mentality becomes energy that flows from managers to their staff and ultimately to the company’s actual customers.

If you’re still asking why you should be embracing a servant style leadership, here are a few of our most convincing reasons:

  • It sets the tone for the organization’s values. If you create a servant mindset for yourself, you inspire not just yourself, but others to be more selfless and aware.
  • It creates a positive work environment. This creates a “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality.
  • Lastly, this mindset will flow down the ladder and positively impact your customers. The better we treat our staff, the better they treat their customers.
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The Growth Mindset

Personal growth, professional growth, the growth of the nearly dead basil plant in your kitchen. Any kind of growth is good growth!

The fear of any manager should be when things become too stagnant.

You’ll know you’ve reached a plateau when your employees start to lose their drive. When they no longer see their job as a job, but as a chore which they will drop like a hot rock once a more exciting opportunity comes up.

As a manager, this is the cue to start embracing a growth mindset.

A growth mindset goes hand in hand with a positive mindset as well. You have to believe in ‘can do’ statements rather than ‘can’t do’.

Furthermore, this is something that you as a manager should impress upon your employees. Part of this mindset involves encouraging your employees to learn new skills.
You’ll find that retaining your employees is easier than you think. Especially if they believe their leaders will guide them to reach their highest potential.

The Multiplier Mindset

Image of increased growth and value

So this one is a little more analytical but no less important than a servant or growth mindset.

As part of a multiplier mindset, a big part of your day involves strategic planning on how to maximize an organization’s value.

You’re constantly looking for a way to maximize your time, that of others, resolving money wasting concerns, etc.

Of course, this is not your green light to start cutting corners. This is a green light to start thinking smarter, not harder.

Another way in which this can happen is by resolving simple problems.

For example, if someone on your team is struggling, this can have an effect on morale and team productivity.

Should you leave them to their own devices, nothing will get done and work will cease to progress. Should you resolve the root of their struggle, then work will carry on as usual and even progress better than before.

In a situation like that, you want to look at it as an opportunity to improve, not just something that needs dealing with.

The 5 Minds Of A Manager

Let’s dive deeper to the very bottom of the iceberg at this point.

We now know 3 types of mindsets that make up a good manager. But if you’re one to abide by a more structured approach to management, then keep reading.

In an issue released by Harvard Business Review, authors Jonathan Gosling and Henry Mintzberg take a look into the 5 minds of a manager that takes the concept of management to a whole new level.

  • The Reflective Mindset
  • The Analytic Mindset
  • The Worldly Mindset
  • The Collaborative Mindset
  • The Action Mindset

We’re here to give you the cliff notes version and offer you an insight on how to structure your own approach to management.

The Reflective Mindset

Image of self reflection

The reflective mindset is all about how you manage your own self.

Managing is pointless unless you understand the meaning behind it. And a deeper understanding only comes when you take a step back and reflect on your experiences.

It’s like going to see a movie but having no clue what you were watching or what it was about. You’re going through the motion of sitting down and watching but you’re not actively engaged in what you’re doing.

So take some time to stop and think about the connection you have with your environment. To the people around you, to the things you do and why you do them.

Turn the attention inwards so you can perceive things in a new light when you turn that attention outwards.  

The Analytical Mindset

Image of a light bulb in a thought bubble

Through analysis, we are better able to manage our organizations.

Analysis is simply a fancy way to describe breaking something up into its component parts to figure out what it’s made of. It’s a way to decode something super complicated into a language that people are able to follow.

The problem is that some managers think too much. So they’re stuck making conventional XYZ choices, following the strict rules they learned early on in their career.

The key to an analytical mindset is to go beyond conventional approaches and think outside the box.

Say you have a big decision to make about cutting out an existing product line for a swimwear company. You’re checking things off a list one by one and come to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to indeed drop the product line.

This is a conventional, shallow approach to analytical decision-making. Take on a deeper analytical mindset, and you could very well discover untold truths that are costing the company greatly.

This way of thinking might not only save the product line but can mean success for the company if said product line were to perform well.

Don’t be afraid to dig deeper into an analytical mindset that will give you more insight than a shallow one ever would.

The Worldly Mindset

Image of a manager outside his office

This mindset allows us to manage the context of the environment in which we’re managing.

In the words of Gosling and Mintzberg, “being worldly does not require global coverage, just as global coverage does not a worldly mindset make.”

So if you claim to have a global, or even a worldly mindset because you’ve taken business trips to different parts of the globe, think again.

Having a worldly mindset is about recognizing that there are different worlds around you that make up the context of where you work. And we’re not talking about the difference between the American versus Irish offices.

When we say worlds we mean the circumstances, habits, cultures, and processes of other people and their environments.

Having a worldly mindset requires that you do more than sit behind your desk all day. So get out of the office, get to know other departments, and familiarize yourself with areas you weren’t familiar with before.

The Collaborative Mindset

Image of people with a collaborative mindset

Picture this: you’re the office manager of a company.

No, not a manager, you’re the commander of a stiffly run corporate army. You hold yourself at a distance, communicating only what is necessary to complete the job.

You expect your small crew of commandos to do what they’re told when they’re told. They are to be held to the highest standard of professionalism, deliver timely results, and contribute only when it is appropriate.

You are also the one to thank for the inevitable downward spiral of the company should you continue with a mindset as callous as the one described.

A collaborative mindset does NOT involve managing people. It involves managing the relationship with those people.

Empathy is welcome here. As a manager, allow yourself to feel, listen, talk, and open up by fostering relationships with your employees.

It’s not about controlling people or controlling the rules of the workplace. Rather, it’s about fostering the right space and attitudes for people to take control of their own space and do their best work.

The Action Mindset

Image of taking action

With an action-oriented mindset, you want to manage the direction that the company is going in. You’re managing change at this point while also managing reflection.

That is to say, change goes hand in hand with a reflective mindset.

Change has no significance if we don’t reflect on the outcome of our actions.

Action without reflection is like going gung-ho into a war zone with no battle strategy, leaving you riddled with holes. But with too much reflection and little action, change is never likely to occur.

Thus, you must strike a balance between the two.

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Final Thoughts

You can’t have one without the others. The best approach you can take is to find a balance between these mindsets.

Some of us are naturally going to lean more heavily towards one mindset than another. Certain mindsets may help add more value to your job than others, but they all must be kept in mind.

Some will be more reflective while others may be more analytical. If you work in hospitality, a servant style leadership may be your go-to approach since it’s the most applicable to the industry.

For now, we’ll leave you with the words of Gosling and Mintzberg:

“Think, too, of these mindsets as mind-sights—perspectives. But be aware that, improperly used, they can also be mine sites. Too much of any of them—obsessive analyzing or compulsive collaborating, for instance—and the mindset can blow up in your face.”

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