Leadership through a Kaleidoscope

leadership through a kaleidoscope

Editor’s Note
Dr. Debaprasad Chattopadhyay, teaches Human Resource at Globsyn Business School – one of the top MBA colleges in Kolkata. Dr. Chattopadhyay has over 48 years of academic and corporate experience with very successful stints in reputed national and international organizations. In addition to being an academician, Dr. Chattopadhyay is a life member of National HRD Network and ISTD and a member of ISABS, NIPM, BMA, and CMA. He is a life member of his alma mater, Don Bosco School Park Circus Alumni Association. Dr. Chattopadhyay completed a program on Strategic Human Resource Leadership from National HRD Network and has also attended Human Laboratory Process Course from Indian Society of Applied Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Chattopadhyay has conducted Management Development Programs and Consultancy Assignments across organizations and has to his credit several publications in various journals and presented technical papers at different national and international conferences. Recently, he has received the Udai Pareek Memorial Distinguished AHRD Alumni Award for the year 2022, bestowed on him by his alma mater Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD), Ahmedabad.

In one of the Calcutta Management Association’s Sir Jehangir Gandhi Memorial lectures delivered at Kolkata Science City Auditorium, quite some time back, the then Executive Director of Tata Sons, Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan metaphorically compared Leadership and Managership with a Compass and Map respectively. A compass provides a sense of direction whereas a map shows footprints of areas already traversed. Going by this analogy therefore, a manager will be comfortable in known areas only. In contrast, a leader will dare to explore areas which have been left unexplored hitherto. A leader  has the ability to hear “infrasounds”, which means sound beyond words. This calls for four-fold  faculty viz. sensing, thinking, doing, correcting. A manager however, only resorts to the last three faculties, the sensing profile is visibly absent. This is precisely the reason why a leader is more sensitive to others and can be interpersonally more effective than a manager in fostering teamwork.

This brings us to the concept of Managerial Leadership. The concept of managerial leadership is important because the term itself suggests the necessity of bringing together the managerial and leadership roles for the most effective task performance, organizational effectiveness and human satisfaction. Instead of indulging in separating and determining what behavior is associated with leadership and what is associated with management, it is useful to focus attention on the essentials of managerial leadership. The managerial leader is generally evaluated on both formal task accomplishment and informal basis of personal and group goal accomplishment. It is an art of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of predetermined goals and will work with zeal and confidence. The concept of Managerial Leadership is very significant in the organizational context since all managers are expected to be leaders and they have to make things happen in the organization through the process of influencing others.

The concept of Managerial Leadership can be best understood through Henry Mintzberg’s work on managerial roles. According to him, managers perform three distinct roles: Figurehead, Leader and Liaison, which together are called “Interpersonal Roles”. The interpersonal roles arise directly from formal authority and refer to the relationship between the manager and others. In the figurehead role, the manager acts as a symbol of the organization. He/she undertakes ceremonial duties and activities designed to promote the interests of the organization. In the second interpersonal role called leader role, he/she energizes the organization and motivates the subordinates to accomplish organizational objectives. In the third interpersonal role called liaison role, he/she creates a web of relationships both with peers who can provide necessary information, resources, and other kinds of help.

Besides the interpersonal roles flowing from formal authority, managers also have important “Informational Roles”. In this area the three distinct roles are: Monitor, Disseminator, and Spokesperson. As a monitor, the manager is continually scanning the environment and probing subordinates, bosses, and outside contacts for information. As a disseminator, he/she distributes information to key internal people. And as a spokesperson, he/she provides information to outsiders. Finally, the manager also plays four “Decisional Roles” in the organization: Entrepreneur, Disturbance Handler, Resource Allocator, and Negotiator. In these roles, the manager acts upon the information. In the Entrepreneurial role, as Mintzberg proposes, the manager initiates the development of a project.  The Disturbance Handler’s role is not proactive like that of an entrepreneur, but is rather reactive to the problems and pressures of the situation. As Resource Allocator he/she decides who gets what while apportioning organizational resources of all types to various individuals and groups. And as a Negotiator, he/she spends time at all levels in the give-n-take of negotiating with subordinates, bosses, and outsiders.

Thus, a leader assumes different roles in different situations. Be that as it may, a leader will be effective, if he/she exercises his/her sensing, thinking, doing, and correcting acumens in the right proportion. Only then, the influencing skill of a leader will manifest and be conspicuous.


Dr. Debaprasad Chattopadhyay
Faculty – HR
Globsyn Business School