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What makes a manager?

A great manager not only does the right things, they do the right things in the right way.

Continuing our series of occasional articles linked to Maximum’s Management Development Programme, the second module starts with the basics by considering what a manager is.

It would be relatively easy (and predictable) to simply list so-called management activities or responsibilities. Such a list might include:

  • Setting clear objectives
  • Organising workflow and workloads
  • Delegation
  • Communication
  • Performance management
  • Learning and development
  • Giving motivational feedback
  • Managing meetings
  • Coaching
  • Conflict resolution
  • Disciplinary
  • Customer service
  • Budget management
  • Recruitment and onboarding…


The list is potentially endless as each organisation will have its own specific ideas and requirements for its managers. However, while best practice abounds, there is no single ‘right’ way to fulfil any of these 8 or other management tasks. Arguably, everybody does it differently – it depends what gets the best results in your individual circumstances, with the people and resources you’re working with. And that’s why, in our Management Development Programme, we focus closely on helping managers understand what they, individually, are bringing to the role.

Know thyself

Once we’ve agreed what a manager is responsible for (the above list is a good starting point) we help people focus on how they personally can approach that. A great manager not only does the right things, they do the right things in the right way. And that’s hugely influenced by a person’s prior experience, values, attitudes, perspectives… their approach to management is influenced by their personality.

That’s why we use the FACET5 tool, based on the Big 5 theory of personality that looks at openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (traits now accepted as the ‘standard’ way of describing behaviour).

This tool allows individuals to get to know themselves better – and how they act as a manager whether personally, organisationally or interpersonally – by exploring the five personality aspects and how they can manifest in the management role:

  • Will
    • Determination – the inner drive to commit to own ideas and goals
    • Confrontation – the drive to confront issues as they arise
    • Independence – the tendency to act independently
  • Energy
    • Sociability – an interest in being with people
    • Vitality – levels of obvious energy and enthusiasm
    • Adaptability – involving others in thinking
  • Affection
    • Trust – the tendency to take people at face value
    • Altruism – the likelihood of putting other people’s interests first
    • Support – the tendency to understand and be helpful
  • Control
    • Discipline – personal planning
    • Responsibility – taking personal responsibility
  • Emotionality
    • Tension – a general sense of tension or stress
    • Apprehension – levels of caution as opposed to optimism


FACET5 allows for some helpful generalisation between individual personality profiles, grouping profiles into ‘families’ which are broadly similar in style. Understanding the families (including your own) aids collaboration, management, and working with others.

For managers, the FACET5 results help by associating certain behaviours with certain profiles. It’s a useful starting point for understanding others but the primary value lies in the understanding about the self and the consequent strengths and areas for development that are suggested.

Clearly the ‘perfect manager’ (a mythical paragon exhibiting all these virtues?) doesn’t exist. We are all more complicated and involved than that. The clear benefit of using this kind of psychological tool to explore what makes a manager is that the results are highly personal, and can be used to created a highly personalised development pathway for an individual looking to improve their management ability.

give us a call

At Maximum, we believe in the value of management development, and the value of the individual manager. The MDP is one of our core programmes and the use of FACT5 enables us to tailor the development approach to the needs and goals of the individual. For more information on management development, and how we can use it to address your specific organisational and business needs, check out our MDP page or give us a call on 01582 463460. We’re here to help.



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