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Interpersonal Roles in Management: Types & Definition

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  • 0:01 Interpersonal Managerial Roles
  • 1:14 The Figurehead Role
  • 2:30 The Leader Role
  • 3:33 The Liaison Role
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Wiley-Cordone
In this lesson, we'll look specifically at the three interpersonal management roles and consider how you might respond when working within each of these roles.

Interpersonal Managerial Roles

If you've ever had responsibility for managing a project of any size, you'll remember several different skills you needed in order to accomplish your goals. Even if you aren't yet familiar with professor and author Henry Mintzberg's observation-based research of CEOs, you'll most likely recognize the ten different roles relevant to all managers. He has organized the roles into three categories:

Managerial roles

  • Informational management roles are divided into three different communication-based roles.
  • Decisional management roles are sorted into four action-based roles for making and implementing decisions.
  • Interpersonal management roles are grouped into three roles involving working with other people.

Thinking about taking on ten different roles may be daunting, but after this lesson, you'll have the precise vocabulary to describe how an effective manager uses the three interpersonal management roles of figurehead, leader, and liaison.

The Figurehead Role

Have you ever seen a mayor scooping a handful of dirt with a golden shovel at a groundbreaking ceremony? In that scene, the mayor is a figurehead conducting social, ceremonial, and legal responsibilities. A figurehead also provides inspiration by sharing the mission and vision of the organization and symbolizing authority.

British Royal Family

'Her Majesty' Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, and the other members of the British Royal Family are highly recognizable figureheads.

On a less grand scale, if you are a department head giving a motivational speech at a quarterly sales meeting, you are acting as a figurehead. The term 'figurehead' is frequently used to describe a powerless person who represents an organization without having real authority, but when the figurehead has responsibilities within the other nine managerial roles, there is not a negative connotation.

The Leader Role

While 'leader' is a generic term and the most widely examined of the ten roles, Mintzberg specifically defines the leader managerial role as the act of directing goals and evaluating employee performance. Mentoring, training, and motivating employees are all leadership activities. If you were to develop a new employee orientation program, you would be acting as a leader.

Coach as leader

Former Oakland Raiders football coach John Madden, like many coaches, directed team goals by giving each individual specific performance milestones to meet during each practice. Afterwards, he would meet with players and provide concrete, detailed feedback. Madden also mentored individual players, implemented a team-wide training program, and maintained the collective drive and motivation necessary for his team to become Super Bowl champions.

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