The 7 Roles of a Manager: Key Terms for Effective Leadership

Senior man having a conversation with woman drinking coffee and relaxing, chatting at restaurant

Recently, I learned a for evaluating that struck me as insightful and complementary to a previous post on the 7 Key Result Areas Managers Must Pay Attention To. The framework was adapted from Brian Tracy's book Eat That Frog!, a book about how to get more things done in less time, and a book many clients have been instructed by me to get and read.


Below is my summary of what I'm learning from Bryan and Jennifer in the Lifetime Trusted Advisor program with my spin on it.


These could also be considered as 7 for evaluating managers, , and even owners who play a role in a business. The role of any manager is multifaceted and crucial for organizational . Effective management is not just about overseeing tasks and ensuring deadlines are met; it involves cultivating a culture of excellence, making strategic investments, and aligning team efforts with the organization's vision.


Here are the seven essential roles of a manager, framed around key terms that define successful management.


1. Culture
Managers play a pivotal role in shaping and maintaining organizational culture, which will vary significantly from one company to another. They need to master these seven roles to lead and organizations effectively.


So, what is culture? It's the living, breathing persona of a business, capturing the norms, values and behaviors of the business. It defines how interact and work together. I have often explained this as having core ideologies, i.e., core values and purpose, and labeled it synonymously by the terms operating agreements, code of behavior, rules of engagement, etc.


Like personalities, not all cultures are alike. The culture in the military is hierarchical, and values and behaviors are prescribed by the top brass. This might be the case in a dominated by a patriarch or matriarch. An open culture, by contrast, might be found in a community-based organization where there is a more level playing field OR a family business where individuals move almost seamlessly between roles in the business. One day, a family business member might be in and the next day in operations, for example.  Another culture with a different set of normative behaviors is a distributed culture – one that might be found in an agile, lean startup or software company or where divisions/departments and individuals have their leading indicator measures and visibility is shared with other departments.


Whatever the culture, the person accountable (or responsible) for communicating the narrative about your company's culture must diligently enforce it to strengthen the bonds between people and departments and foster collaboration, , and a sense of belonging.


The best managers lead by example, promoting a culture of respect, inclusivity, and continuous improvement. By prioritizing culture, managers ensure a supportive environment where employees can thrive and contribute their best.


2. Investment
Managers are responsible for strategically investing resources, technology, and people. This may involve financial investments, time investments, or the team's investment in an initiative. Recently, while working with a client, the managers of a team had to choose between several initiatives given their precious resources: Choosing between an expensive and time-consuming implementation of an enterprise resource planning software (NetSuite) vs. developing a more cohesive team with healthy dynamics vs. investing in developing some new products. These are not easy decisions and need to be viewed through the rules of business investment around debt and equity. Also, effective managers must allocate resources wisely, ensuring the team has the tools and support to achieve its goals. Too many investment initiatives kill focus and effectiveness. I like to quote another mentor who said F.O.C.U.S. is an acronym for “follow one course until successful.” By viewing investment through a strategic lens, managers can drive long-term growth and sustainability (twin pillars of concern in family enterprises).


3. Prioritization
In a world of competing demands, prioritization is a critical skill for managers. It involves identifying the most important tasks and projects that align with the organization's goals and ensuring they are given precedence. Effective prioritization requires clearly understanding the team's capabilities and the broader business objectives. Managers must balance short-term urgencies with long-term strategic initiatives, making decisions that maximize impact and drive progress. In the case of the above example, my client deprioritized continued work on team health and long meetings to review metrics and priorities, in favor of a heads-down approach to getting work done on the chosen initiatives.


4. Staff Coverage
Ensuring adequate staff coverage is vital for maintaining and meeting business needs. Managers must assess workload distribution, identify gaps, and plan for contingencies. This includes scheduling, cross-training, and understanding each team member's strengths and weaknesses. By effectively managing staff coverage, managers can prevent burnout, reduce stress, and maintain high service and . This seems more difficult to do in smaller companies. But, it's also a balancing act between priorities or to-do's and the quantity of activities that can get done by your people.


5. Employee Development
Investing in employee development is essential for building a skilled and motivated workforce. Managers should provide opportunities for training, mentorship, and career advancement. By supporting continuous learning and professional growth, managers help employees reach their full potential and increase their value to the organization. This not only improves individual performance but also fosters loyalty and reduces turnover. Watch our video made several years ago to gain some understanding of the impact of high employee engagement.


6. Visibility of Dashboards and KPIs or OKRs
Managers must ensure that performance metrics are visible and accessible to the team. Dashboards and (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) provide a clear picture of progress and areas needing improvement. By maintaining transparency and regularly reviewing these metrics, managers can make informed decisions, track progress, and hold the team accountable. Visibility into performance data helps align efforts and keeps everyone focused on achieving the desired outcomes. This is where we favor recommending one of our strategic partners who have created software to give visibility of these dashboards to those you believe need it.


7. Alignment on Vision, Direction, Strategy, Goals, Objectives, and To-Dos
One of the most critical roles of a manager is to ensure alignment across the team. This means communicating the organization's vision, direction, strategy, goals, objectives, and day-to-day tasks (to-dos). When everyone understands the bigger picture and their role, they are likelier to work cohesively and purposefully. Managers must facilitate regular communication and feedback loops to keep the team aligned and motivated. Here is where the role of annual and quarterly planning sessions with your teams (described in our 10-Minute Guide to Strategic Planning), all-hands company meetings, where you reinforce the organization's messaging, is so important.


The seven roles of a manager—culture, investment, prioritization, staff coverage, employee development, visibility of dashboards and KPIs or OKRs, and alignment on vision and strategy—are interconnected and essential for effective . By mastering these areas, managers can create a thriving work environment, drive organizational success, and inspire their teams to achieve greatness.


Visit our 1-on-1 coaching services to amplify, educate and coach your managers (executives, leaders and owners). The improvements to your business over time will be obvious.


Visit our team coaching services. If you are ready to get your entire management/leadership team engaged in implementing these 7 Key Roles and more.