Are planning, organizing, leading and controlling, the four functions of management, universal in all organisations?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book Administration Industrielle et Generale by Henri Fayol is the first documented source that explains the functional approach to management, listing the four leading managerial functions as

  • planning
  • organizing
  • leading
  • controlling

Other functions can also be identified in the myriad of different duties that managers have to perform. However these four are indeed universal, or at least, naturally-existing within just about every organization.

Planning is the process of putting together the steps to accomplish the mission of the organization. It involves making objectives and setting up goals. From the goals come the interventions that are needed to accomplish them. Then comes the delegating (another managerial and leadership dimension) that must occur to equally share the work and tap on everybody's talents.

Organizing is coming up with all the resources already in place to determine how the plan of action will be accomplished. Making lists, assigning tasks, keeping records, and looking over the roles of each member of the group. By defining what each person is supposed to do, and by differentiating tasks, the leader can help personnel avoid deviating from the objective.

Controlling, or tapering/protecting is the process of achieving a "tone" or creating an atmosphere in the workplace that makes everyone pleased to be part of the action plan. Treating everybody with respect, assigning respectful tasks, and making the work meaningful avoids misunderstandings, offending someone, and builds esprit de corps.

Leading is ensuring that all of the sub processes that take place within an organization are working optimally. It is the process of assessing, monitoring and evaluating the components of the action plan. It is the actual act of delegating tasks, of assigning duties and of representing the organization as the leading man or woman. This requires responsibility and discipline. Every leadership style is different, however, a great leader differs from a good leader in that the great leader knows how to achieve a balance in every aspect of the job. Leaders who are not impartial, or who are prone to be biased are not effective.