What metaphors would you use to describe some of the managers you know? Take a look at some that have we have collected. Let us know the ones that work for you. We use metaphors in communication because they use aspects of something we are familiar with to help us provide make clearer a thing we are less familiar with. Metaphors allow us to put over complex concepts more simply. ‘If a picture is worth a thousand words, a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures’, (Daniel Pink, 2005, A Whole New Mind)
Manager as athlete Constantly working to improve performance.
Manager as parent Feeds, teaches, mentors, lets go.
Manager as football manager Spends all week planning then stands on side-lines organising when action starts.
Manager as prostitute Money driven and customer focused.
Manager as bad dentist Increases the need for them in the future leaving decay to self propagate the on going need for their work.
Manager as a pathologist Dissects the corporate body to find out what’s wrong and put it back together again.
Manager as shop keeper Someone who manages buying, stock and sales.
Manager as a nurse Caring, wants to make things better and is focused on looking after people.
Manager as mechanic Logical fixer of organisational machinery who uses technical knowledge, manual dexterity and mental ability to get job done.
Manager as film Director Implements the concept, directs the production, tells people how to act, controlling, visionary and temperamental.
Manager as puppy dog trainer Prizes developing and training people with a focus on nurturing and watching, whilst supporting their improvement.
Manager as set-out engineer Establishes a baseline and foundation from which to construct the appropriate outcome.
Manager as NGO worker Works in difficult, chaotic conditions to help others survive and succeed while building sustainable futures. Is able to distinguish urgent from important and knows which one to prioritise in decision-making.
Manager as good wall paperer Spends time making the environment conducive to its purpose and helping others to succeed for only vicarious personal credit. Their invisible mending helps the business to become fit and able. After a while their actions become as invisible as good wallpaper and people mutter over coffee “what does s/he actually do?”
Manager as scientist Looks for understanding and truth. Is interested in doing the right thing, and not simply asking does it work? Values logic and evidence when deciding what to do. Uses others skills if they are better than their own. Looks for what is known already and for causal relationships. Must have an evidence-based to plan, act, do, check.
Manager as palaeontology Likes doing a 10,000-word jigsaw puzzle without a picture on the box. They are very patient sleuths collecting fragments of bones and figuring where they fit in the skeletal structure. Sets out without really know where all the parts are supposed to go, what it’s supposed to look like or when they are where they’re supposed to be. They use palaeontologist skills to know if something they pick up his part of the puzzle they are working or just a piece of detritus.
Manager as Ships captain Peers through a telescope deep to the distant horizon, sometime through impenetrable fog, setting a long-term vision and proceeding steady as she goes; steer the ship and control the speed, ensure the ship arrive on times, undamaged with happy customers.
Manager as school teacher Leads in learning; passes on knowledge, caring, approachable, nurturing.
Manager as home owner Prizes ownership, responsibility, maintenance and improvement.
Manager as military general Maintain a focus on leadership of the troops and the implementation of the strategy; accepts full responsibility, delegates down a chain of command and prizes teamwork.
Manager as Doctor Leads a mixed team of specialists, ‘nurses’, and juniors; uses experience as professional, not manager, to take control of a situation.
Manager as F1 driver Would that be ‘Races round managing on the edge’?
Alternatively (or additionally if you prefer) how about … wants feedback from the environment, the fans and the sponsors, … needs instant gratification and adulation; … committed to winning, speed and exhilaration; … train hard to keep physically fit; … technically competent providing feedback into the loop; … patient, prepared to go around and around until someone makes a mistake; … looking for competitive advantage; risk taker and calculator; … continual testing to improve competitiveness; … well rewarded; live in the public eye; … increasing concern for personal safety; … trail blazers for others and innovative development; … remains alert to what others are developing; … exposed to the unexpected; … heavily funded; … works within a team; … meticulous planners; … strategies are exceptionally well managed; … live in an active transfer market; … profession is a lifestyle choice; … early burnout can be a factor with have it limited shelf life; … front man, highly dependent on the team and equipment about them to win, … surrounded by experts to do specific expert jobs; … take things one step beyond the point at which they fail then go back one step, … aware of young drivers pushing from below who are always fitter, sharper, faster; … as their abilities decay the young pretenders become stronger and stronger; … continuous searching for innovation at the macro and microscopic level; … monitors everything; … places senses in the system to receive feedback from all points all the time; … data are analysed to find the smallest improvement; … they’re always pushing the envelope.
The dictionary definition of a metaphor is, ‘a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance; something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol’. If you really want to get picky there are specific differences between a metaphor, a simile, an analogy etc. but I suggest we do not overly worry about these distinctions for at the moment.
Please send any poems or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The image associated with this article show a moment when “The sun emitted a significant solar flare on Oct. 19, 2014, peaking at 1:01 a.m. EDT. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is always observing the sun, captured this image of the event in extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 131 Angstroms – a wavelength that can see the intense heat of a flare and that is typically colorized in teal. This flare is classified as an X1.1-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 flare is twice as intense as an X1, and an X3 is three times as intense. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. > More: NASA’s SDO Observes an X-class Solar Flare”
Image Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory