What is a manager? Definition and meaning

A Manager is a person who is responsible for a part of a company, i.e., they ‘manage‘ the company.

Managers may be in charge of a department and the people who work in it. In some cases, the manager is in charge of the whole business. For example, a ‘restaurant manager’ is in charge of the whole restaurant.

A manager is a person who exercises managerial functions primarily. They should have the power to hire, fire, discipline, do performance appraisals, and monitor attendance. They should also have the power to approve overtime and authorize vacations. They are the boss.

The Manager’s duties also include managing employees or a section of the company on a day-to-day basis.

They often serve as a liaison between the workforce and upper management, ensuring that the team’s contributions align with the organization’s goals and objectives.

Different types of managers

Levels of Management

Levels of management spread from right at the top of a company down to supervisors of small teams.

In this article, when I use the word ‘company,’ I am also including ‘organization.’

  • Top Managers are in charge of a company’s strategy. In other words, they are the stewards of an organization’s vision and mission.
  • Functional Managers are responsible for the effectiveness and efficiency of specific areas of a company, such as marketing. They are also in charge of personnel and accounts.
  • Team Managers or Supervisory Managers are in charge of subgroups of a particular function. They may also be in charge of a group of members from different parts of the company.
  • Line Managers are in charge of the output of certain products or services. They hold authority in a vertical chain of command, or over a particular product line.

For example, in a vehicle-making company, the Line Manager might be in charge of the ‘small cars’ or ‘light truck’ division. Also, even more specifically, they may be in charge of the ‘small cars marketing line.’

  • General Managers

General Managers are responsible for managing a revenue-producing unit, such as a product line, business unit, or a store.

The General manager has to make decisions across different functions within that unit. General managers typically get a bonus or commission when the unit does well.

General Managers report to their top executives and take directions from them. The top executives explain what the company’s overall plan is. The General Manager subsequently sets specific goals for the unit to fit in with the plan.

Senior management refers to the top managers of a company, i.e., its directors. If I say, Harvard Business Review is widely read by senior management, I mean company directors.

Qualities of a good manager

According to the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), a good manager should have the following qualities:

  • Accountability
  • Character
  • Cultural affinity
  • Prioritization
  • Warmth
  • Patience
  • Honesty
  • Decisiveness
  • Empathy
  • Positive attitude
  • Competence
  • Flexibility

Product Managers vs. Brand Managers

  • Product Managers

In, for example technology companies, product managers are typically the CEOs of a product. They are also responsible for its strategy, roadmap, and everything regarding its production. Storage and sales are also the General Manager’s responsibility.

The position usually includes marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss responsibilities.

  • Brand Managers

They focus on the perception and maintenance of a particular brand. They are different from Product Managers.

The Brand Manager’s job is often strategic, involving high-level curation of both the firm’s image and the practical steps to maintain that image.

The Brand Manager aims to enhance, maintain, and encourage interest in the brand. There is a strong emphasis on marketing and the company’s overall image. Brand managers inspire feeling, reactions, and loyalty.

Brand management is common in consumer product companies. Product management, on the other hand, is common in software firms.

This is because consumer product businesses need a top-of-the-mind recall of their products and brands because they mass market them.

According to Management Study Guide:

“Brand management is associated with consumer product companies whereas product management is associated with software companies. This is because consumer product companies need a top of the mind recall for their products and brands since they mass market them.”

Etymology of manager

Etymology is the study of the origins of words and how they evolved over time.

The noun ‘manager’ comes from the verb ‘to manage,’ which came to the UK around 1560. It came from Italian maneggiare ‘to handle’ or ‘to control a horse.’ The Italian word came from the Latin noun manus ‘hand.’ The English word was also influenced by French manège ‘horsemanship.’

The Online Etymology Dictionary makes the following comment regarding the origin of the English word ‘manager’:

“1580s, ‘one who manages,’ agent noun from manage. Specific sense of ‘one who conducts a house of business or public institution’ is from 1705.”

Today, the role of a manager also extends to navigating digital transformation, with a growing emphasis on data-driven decision-making and fostering innovation in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

Moreover, modern managers are increasingly adopting sustainable practices, aiming to balance profitability with social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Derivatives of “manage”

The term “manager” is a derivative of the word “manage.” There are many derivatives. Let’s take a look at them, their meanings, and their usage in context:

  • Manage (verb)

To be in charge of, act on, or dispose of.
Example: “She knows how to manage a team effectively.”

  • Manager (noun)

A person responsible for controlling or administering an organization or group of staff.
Example: “The project manager coordinated all the activities.”

  • Management (noun)

The process of dealing with or controlling things or people.
Example: “Good management is crucial for the success of the business.”

  • Managerial (adjective)

Relating to a manager or management.
Example: “He possesses strong managerial skills that benefit the team.”

  • Manageability (noun)

The quality of being manageable.
Example: “The manageability of the software makes it popular among users.”

  • Managerially (adverb)

In a way that relates to management or a manager.
Example: “She is involved managerially in the company’s direction.”

  • Mismanage (verb)

Manage (something) badly or wrongly.
Example: “The funds were grossly mismanaged by the previous committee.”

  • Mismanagement (noun)

Definition: The process of managing something in a careless or inefficient way.
Example: “The collapse of the company was due to financial mismanagement.”

  • Manageress (noun)

A female manager (dated, sometimes considered offensive).
Example: “The manageress of the store took charge of inventory.”

  • Managed (adjective)

Supervised by or under the management (especially in compound forms like ‘managed care’ or ‘managed services’).
Example: “The managed network services provide comprehensive IT support.”

  • Self-managed (adjective)

(of an individual, team, or organization) Managed by oneself or itself without outside intervention.
Example: “The self-managed team sets its own targets and deadlines.”

  • Unmanageable (adjective)

Not manageable; difficult or impossible to manage or control.
Example: “The workload has become unmanageable without additional staff.”

  • Unmanaged (adjective)

Not managed or controlled by regulations or other interventions.
Example: “The unmanaged forests have become dense and wild.”

  • Managerialism (noun)

The belief in or reliance on professional managers and their administrative and organizational skills.
Example: “The university has been criticized for its shift towards managerialism.”

  • Co-manage (verb)

To manage jointly with one or more others.
Example: “The two directors were appointed to co-manage the new department.”

  • Overmanage or Micromanage (verb)

To manage with excessive control or attention to detail.
Example: “Creativity can be stifled if employees feel overmanaged.”

  • Undermanage (verb)

To manage inadequately, especially by providing insufficient guidance.
Example: “The lack of direction suggests that the team is being undermanaged.”

  • Managerialist (noun)

An advocate or adherent of managerialism.
Example: “As a managerialist, he focuses on efficiency and control within the organization.”

Three Videos

These three YouTube videos come from our sister channel, Marketing Business Network. They explain what the terms “Manager”, “Business Manager”, and “General Manager” mean using easy-to-understand language and examples:

  • What is a Manager?

  • What is a Business Manager?

  • What is a General Manager?