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The Manager’s Role in 2024: A Leader, Not an Expert

Loïc Blandel
Close-up of two colleagues, one seen from behind, the other from the front, smiling at her while holding a document

Project managers, operations managers, marketing managers, sales managers, … many managers in today’s complex work landscape simply need help understanding their role and how they can lead their team to reach organizational objectives.

Does a manager need to know how to perform their employees’ tasks to be relevant? Should their decisions be based solely on their knowledge? Is it the role of a good manager to provide their opinion on a subject requiring expertise?

The answers to these questions depend on many factors, including the industry or specific situation. But in most cases, we could respond with a resounding “no” because it is no longer the role of a manager to be an expert.

However, throughout my many mandates at companies, I have observed an entirely different reality: many team leaders find it difficult to accept their lack of knowledge on subjects mastered by their employees. They don’t know that ignorance can represent an opportunity for them. Here is why.

Key takeways:

  • Many managers lack the necessary skills and training, often being promoted based on technical expertise rather than people management abilities and emotional intelligence.
  • Managers play a crucial role in team engagement and productivity, with 70% of team engagement being influenced by managers.
  • The role of a manager extends beyond supervision and includes activities such as driving team activities, leveraging employee knowledge, and making effective decisions.
  • Effective managers possess strong communication skills and foster cohesion within the team, caring for employee well-being and involving them in the decision-making process.
  • Organizations should define clear responsibilities for managers and provide the resources and training needed to support their development and improve employee performance. The traditional leadership model is evolving towards a coaching management approach.

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What is the role of a manager in 2024?

A manager's role is far more than supervisory. 70% of a team's engagement is influenced by managers.


There is not one, but several key roles for the manager, just as there are several types of management. Within these roles, the manager's mission is to ensure that their team achieves the company’s strategic goals.

To that end, one of manager’s duties is to "steer" the day-to-day operations of their collaborators. They must make the best possible use of their teams' knowledge and ensure that their direct reports develop continuously through self-training, cross-training, or group training.

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Their responsibility will also be to make decisions when necessary, using the knowledge and expertise of all their employees. In addition, a successful manager must demonstrate good communication and interpersonal skills to exchange efficiently with employees, give them constructive feedback, and include them in the decision-making process.

Finally, today’s manager must facilitate cohesion within the team, care about the well-being of each employee, and show empathy and emotional intelligence. This is important because well-being influences motivation, engagement, and performance of workers, and ultimately the productivity of the entire company.

This blend of technical skills and soft skills equally applies to frontline managers, middle-level managers (middle management), and top managers (senior management). Whether you're a project manager, a marketing manager, or a chief executive officer, having emotional and people skills is as crucial as having a good understanding of the skills and expertise required to help your employees when needed.

When the career path to manager is unclear, results-oriented and high-performing employees often find themselves suddenly promoted into the role – more for their technical strengths than their people management skills. Many of these accidental managers are then let loose on their teams without receiving the proper skills and training.

Harvard Business Review

However, what I see in the field is a management system based on an ancestral subordination relationship, and technical and intellectual authority. This paradigm, which we consider old-fashioned, is still very much alive. It demonstrates the inconsistency between the desire to empower individuals and the need for superiority that many "managers" need to exercise through a management that is controlling instead of being motivating.

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The manager’s role DOES NOT require the mastery of all the tasks performed by their teams – by “mastery”, we mean knowing how to do things for their employees. Yet too many top-level managers believe that knowing better than their teams is a required management skill, that it will allow them to establish and build a certain legitimacy in their eyes.

This belief stems from a need for a better understanding of the roles and key responsibilities of a manager with their teams, and of teams with their manager. This situation creates a gray area in which neither the manager nor the employee knows what to do.

The root of the issue is that the manager's job is rarely considered a job in its own right. The ambiguity of this role leads many managers to hide behind their technical competencies to establish their legitimacy and try to conceal their ignorance of a subject matter. It is not due to a lack of confidence in their teams but a lack of confidence in their own managerial competencies.

Successful managers don't have to know everything

Could a manager's ignorance be a real driver for teamwork, improving employees' knowledge and ultimately creating value for the entire business? Could we consider ignorance as an opportunity for good managers to strengthen their leader role within their teams?

To empower teams, shouldn't the manager use their ignorance to create exchanges, foster effective communication, and encourage the various stakeholders to master their roles and take responsibility within the team? This approach is appealing because it enables them to manager their time better and focus on what they are paid for, i.e., lead, guide, inspire, gather, and energize their teams around a shared vision to make them as efficient and productive as possible.

It also enhances the value of individual employees, with managers using their essential skills and challenging them without preconceived ideas on a technical approach to problem-solving.

To reduce the gray areas between managerial roles and employees' needs, and to empower managers to apply proactive management with confidence, companies must define the roles and responsibilities of each worker precisely, with full transparency. This can be done by the organization, by providing job descriptions for example, and by the manager during the new employees onboarding process. This practice helps avoid viewing ignorance as something negative.

For leaders to dramatically change their performance management approach, they must give managers the resources and training they need to meet the new requirements for employee development and improved performance.

Gallup, It’s the Manager

Moreover, it is the company's responsibility to accompany the people they have appointed as managers. By “accompanying”, I mean training them to manage human resources, developing their management skills, and supporting them in their new management activities.

So, shouldn't we lead managers to accept that they do not need to know everything, to understand that their ignorance can truly help their teams perform better?

FAQ on the role of a manager

What is the role of a manager in 2024?


How are managers selected in companies?


Should managers be expected to know everything?


How can companies define the roles and responsibilities of managers?


How can companies support managers in their new roles?


Need to develop the skills and strengthen the role of your managers in the era of Industry 5.0?

In this new people-centric industrial revolution, Proaction International's leadership development experts help clarify managers' roles and support them in adopting the right management behaviors, through personalized coaching that puts people at the center of its priorities.

Loïc Blandel

Loïc Blandel

Director of Operations