Managers operate in a complex role environment as different stakeholder groups often have conflicting expectations of them: customers, staff, colleagues, their own supervisors and so on.

The “inner management team” model (Fischer–Epe) offers an approach towards improved understanding of the different roles and managerial requirements. The model distinguishes between four aspects of the managerial role, which may indeed contradict each other in certain instances:

•  As a corporate representative, a manager must remain focused on the economic success and material interests of the company.

•  As an expert, he must guarantee technical quality and tailor processes to the requirements of the tasks.

•  As a team coach, he must ensure that each team member is motivated and that the team works together efficiently, resolving the inevitable conflicts that arise.

•  As a personally involved individual, a manager must have his own values, desires and interests, and take responsibility for his own actions and development.

The term “managerial leadership” blends the traditional roles of a manager such as planning, organising and controlling, with the more holistic approaches needed to motivate, influence and lead a modern workforce.

The “inner management team” complements this new development by representing the four roles visually as “inner people” inside the manager.

The manager’s task is to coordinate these various role aspects within himself and lead them like a team. The interplay and balanced application of these four managerial roles enables effective and personally consistent management.

Corporate representative

One of the key members of the inner management team is the corporate representative, who must keep in mind the company’s economic success and material interests, providing employees with direction on meaning, goals and strategy.

This entails getting results from the organisation, teams and individuals by understanding and managing performance within an agreed framework of planned goals, standards and competence standards. Thus, setting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) is the focus of the corporate representative.

Team coach

No less important is the role of the team coach for the manager who has to create for his team and each team member an environment that enables them to cooperate successfully for a task.

But not everything that is useful to the individual is useful to the team — and vice versa. And the insights of the team coach can be in conflict with the corporate representative and the expert. Maybe the corporate representative wants to apply pressure and demand performance, while the team coach thinks the opposite is called for. 

Concerned human being

Finally, as a concerned human being, the manager always has to consider his personal values, health and capacities, private life and career aspirations. He is not only a carrier of functions, but at the same time a human being with individual preferences and characteristics, desires, values and emotions.

He has to be prepared to take responsibility for his actions and to stand his ground. The concerned human being might have completely different ideas and goals than the corporate representative, the expert or the team coach.

Sometimes it may be necessary to confront an employee strongly, even though the manager is personally quite attached to this employee. At other times, he may be forced to voice management resolutions he personally finds unreasonable or wrong and unfair and that he does not feel inclined to support. 

Benefits of model

The benefits of the model are that with the help of this system, in difficult situations, you as a manager can check which of the four requirements you want to lend a greater or lesser weight to.

When you want to communicate decisions you have made in this way, you can directly use the considerations and arguments of the four inner management team members.

It is often helpful to express your rationale in the role aspect from which you are arguing. For example, you might say:

•  “From a business perspective, I think…“ (corporate representative);

•  “From a technical point of view, I’d like to…” (expert);

•  “When I think about the team...” (team coach); or

•  “My personal thoughts/feelings are…” (concerned human being).

The inner management team allows the manager to recognise and understand the source of internal tensions that often arise in management decision-making and to be in a position to use all four role aspects to take actions appropriate to the situation.


Article by Chris Fenney, co-founder and director of Training Edge International. He has more than 35 years of experience in training and management development and has worked in Europe, the United States and Asia. He specialises in the development of human resources and can be contacted via or at