Management Principles

The Four Functions of Management

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And an Assessment of Managerial Traits

It is often said that a manager is what one does and a leader is who a person is (Underdown, 2010). There is a lot of truth to that statement as a manager often is given responsibility for ensuring the status quo while leaders are expected to bring about significant, even transformational change (Eisenbeiss, Boerner, 2010). There are many, many differences between a manager and a leader and the traits that ensure success along the four dimensions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling. The goal of this paper is to evaluate how the traits of leaders who manage the four vital functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling enhance and accentuate their effectiveness.

Planning is the Foundation of Excellent Management

Planning as a management discipline has gone through significant change over the last generation thought leaders in this field, including Dr. Peter Drucker, Dr. William Bennis and others (McCrimmon, 2010). This transition has been away from autocratic, very rigid organizational structures to more agile and organic structures and managers who gain respect from their technical ability and insight first and authority second (Eisenbeiss, Boerner, 2010). Planning has as a result gone from being very ivory tower like and much more focused on collaboration and shared ownership of outcomes than ever before. This approach to planning also to change as it gives each employee a strong sense of ownership over the outcomes of the strategies and planned defined (Chrusciel, 2008). It has been found that the managers who are most effective at championing their plans into reality have this ability to create collaborative work groups and an atmosphere of shared outcomes (Chrusciel, 2008). Planning can be either very mechanistic or authoritarian or it can be full of potential for personal and professional growth for each team member, full of passion for accomplishing shared goals. The traits of excellent managers ignite these positive aspects and far outdistance the more mechanistic, autocratic managers in the process.

Organizing Is More than Arranging Meetings or Webinars

The common perception of managing is that it is the essence of coordinating and synchronizing one department or division with another. It often also conjures up images of huge, long, often unproductive meetings. Organizing is often much more focused on creating alliances, initiating and sustaining trust across departments and divisions, and learning how to work with managerial peers. It is about building a strong informal network so that work can be accomplished quickly through cooperation, not about the purely mechanistic concepts many it as (Dixon, 2008). Organizing as a managerial skill set or trait requires exceptional ability to create transformational and trust-filled relationships over time and keep commitments to other managers to strengthen it (Eisenbeiss, Boerner, 2010). The best organizing managers know this never works in a vacuum and that creating coordination and collaboration is critical.

Traits That Lead to Excel at Leading

There is a continual debate in many academic institutions including many of the world’s most respected colleges and universities if this trait of a manager is innate or can be learned (McCrimmon, 2010). Regardless of which side of the debate a person is on, the truth is that transformational leaders far outdistance those that are authoritarian or transactional in mindset and approach (Eisenbeiss, Boerner, 2010). There are many factors for this but the traits that relate to excellence in leadership are as follows. First, transformational leaders have gained the trust and respect of their peers and subordinates by being transparent, or doing what they say they will do on a consistent bases. This is why trust is so difficult to earn, it takes consistency over sometimes years of relationships. For the true leaders in any company, they are transparent, consistent, and above all, real. They don’t fake it or tell it like it isn’t, they tell the truth and are straight with their subordinates, even if the news is bad. This is why some leaders can make entire strategies come together so quickly while others struggle to just get the most fundamental tasks done.

Managerial Control

This last aspect of management requires a skill set of analytical insight and intelligence and the ability to troubleshoot why goals are not being met (Dixon, 2008). An excellent manager will be able to determine why a given set of objectives defies accomplishment and why a series of goals are not progressing. have a transformational skill sets of rallying their teams around a problem and attacking the issues, not each other (Eisenbeiss, Boerner, 2010). Control is about staying on track towards the accomplishment of goals; it is about focus and keeping on top of progress. The best managers in companies have an innate ability to do this while keeping their teams motivated to continually excel in their jobs. The aspect of leadership also requires the set of skills that are also transformational in scope.


Rarely are the roles of managers so distinctly differentiated by planning, organizing, leading and controlling; they in reality often blend together as a series of decisions to be made and coaching sessions with subordinates that must be handled with tact and focus. Ultimately exceptionally talented managers move through these roles very quickly and as appropriate for the situations they are facing. They rely on the four functions of management and their unique traits to support them and with their teams and others.


Donald Chrusciel. 2008. What motivates the significant/strategic change champion(s)? Journal of Organizational Change Management 21, no. 2, (March 1): 148-160.

Dixon, G.. 2008. Followers: the Rest of the Leadership Process. . Proceedings January 1, 1385-1390.

Eisenbeiss, S., and S. Boerner. 2010. Transformational Leadership and R&D Innovation: Taking a Curvilinear Approach. Creativity and Innovation Management 19, no. 4, (December 1): 364-372.

McCrimmon, M.. 2010. Reinventing Leadership and Management. Ivey Business Journal Online (May 1):

Underdown, R.. 2010. Management vs. Leadership (Presentation). IIE Annual Conference. Proceedings January 1 1-29.