A good manager sans numbers

MDI, Gurgaon, Team Name: Ruskin, Team Mate: Debayan Roy,

Link to the article being refuted,



Prof. Maurizio Poli mentions in his interview that you can not be a good manager without being good at numbers. The article below encapsulates a different view point to it.

The core meaning of the word manager means one who manages. Now that does not specify manage what? Hence, the ambiguity. Untill the manager is specifically a finance manager he need not be a financial genius. The point that we want to drive home is that managing anything right from big corporates to a family of four can be done with just the basic understanding in mathematics.

A manager in a corporate setup is given the help of an army of professionals who are good at their respective fields. The difference is that they can analyse their respective sets of data but at the end of the day it is the manager who takes the all important yes or no, all-in or safe, aggressive or defensive call. Mintzberg categorized ten management roles into three categories, Interpersonal, Informational, and decisional.

Interpersonal Roles

The three major roles that come under this category are figurehead, leader and liaison. One needs very good people skills and networking skills to be a good leader. He needs to lead from the front by setting examples, maintains a cohesive unit and also acts as the titular head of that particular team. He is responsible for their victories as well as their losses. No where in the process of perfoming the aforementioned duties is a sound knowledge of mathematics needed. All one requires is some amount of common sense and willingness to mingle with people.


In this category he acts as a monitor, disseminator and spokesperson. This is about having a clear mission and a vision for the team. The manager keeps himself up to date with the environment around him to be aware of the trends that are in vogue. He needs to be effective in communicating those ideas with his team. The vision and the mission statement of his team should be clear not only to the stakeholders inside the team but also the ones outside it. In this process also he does not require a sound mastery of the subject called mathematics.


The four main roles in this category are enterpreneurial, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator. All of the above mentioned roles require good communication skills. Along with that he needs to be street smart, innovative and creative. To be good with negotiations he should have good strategic and diplomatic understanding of the situtaion. His enterpreneurial skills include finding an out-of-the-box-solution to the problem and being able to drive a project from inception to end. None of these four roles require mathematics in a big way.

Real Managers-a study by Luthans, Hodgetts and Rosenkrantz

To further corroborate that number crunching is not a vitl skill required in the making of good managers, we have a study by F.Luthans, R.M. Hodgetts and S.A. Rosenkrantz, 1988. The study identifies four key as pre-requisites in the making of managers. What differentiates average, successful and effective managers is the different composition of these four traits in them.

The four skills identified are traditional management, communication, human resource management and networking. While average managers focus on traditional management,successful ones on human resource management, effective managers give importance to communication. The underlying point however remains that in none of the cases, is a hold on numbers seems to be crucial. Hence, it is not a deep understanding of numbers that is needed, but a sound and conscious knowledge of the the things happening around that matter.