Oxford Dictionaries define line manager as, “A person with direct managerial responsibility for a particular employee or a manager involved in running the main business activities of a company”.  

The business Dictionary states, “A manager who heads a revenue-generating department and is responsible for achieving an organization’s main objectives by executing functions such as policy making, target setting, decision making”.

Wikipedia defines it as, “In corporate hierarchy, a Line Manager holds authority in a vertical (chain of command), and/or over a particular product line. He or she is charged with meeting corporate objectives in a specific functional area or line of business”.

The CIPD factsheet says, “Line managers are those managers to whom individual employees or teams directly report and who have responsibility to a higher level of management for those employees or teams”.

All the definitions above conclude that the line manager is supposed to be the most important person in the hierarchy of any productive entity, may that be a corporate or otherwise. He remains to be the one getting the work done from subordinate teams/employees in line with the objectives, policies or line of business of the organization he/she is working for.

Line managers are either competent or incompetent and the same way they are either assets or liabilities. Proceeding to this sequel, I would be elaborating both the kinds as:

Competent Line Manager – Asset.

The one who attains a position thru succession mostly proves to be competent as he/she has been into all that which his/her team or the subordinates are going through. This by any mean should not be taken as some hard and fast rule. I have seen so many who have proved themselves to be the other way. I said mostly and not all. Following should be the traits of an asset line manager:

  • Lead ability
  • Team member
  • Personal competence
  • Open for everyone
  • Transparent
  • Trustworthy
  • Selfless

The one who possesses leadership traits and remains part of the team will always be transparent and won’t ever hide from either superiors or subordinates. It is the competence of the line manager which makes his/her unit productive or non-productive.

Incompetent Line Manager – Liability

The one who comes thru a shortcut or ‘parchi’ builds walls around so that his/her incompetence is not exposed. Such line managers often resort to bullying technique just to keep the others repelled or they prefer staying in a cocoon so that no one knows how good or bad they are. They are very occasionally found interacting with their subordinates and are mostly seen whirling around the top executives.

Your deeds and acts speak far louder than the words. A competent line manager in vertical hierarchy will always prove to be an asset multiplying the productivity of the entity he/she is working for with his/her selfless transparent efforts and the teamwork. This kind of productivity shall have the lasting effects and the one who made the way thru hook or crook may produce for the time being but in the longer run he/she will prove to be the biggest liability for the organization.

As always, I am open for comments, critiques and suggestions.

Writer: Mr. Maj. Syed Naveed Kazmi (Retd)
Unit Manager (Sourcing) at FFBL &
Author of “Allah Siffar Kilometer” (The Book)
Linkedin: Syed Naveed Kazmi
email id: musavi_sayed@hotmail.com
Mr. Syed-Naveed-Kazmi
Mr. Syed-Naveed-Kazmi