7 Qualities of a Great Manager


People will stay with an organization because of a manager and leave because of a manager. I couldn’t agree more with that as I reflect on my former corporate career life. I’ve stayed at companies solely because I enjoyed the people and my direct manager. While I could have made more money elsewhere, I often stayed because the people you work with make work enjoyable, and a high salary will not cover up the fact you do not enjoy the people you work with or your direct manager, who might be a pain.

With that in mind, I thought I shared some of the characteristics or attributes I noticed over the years from all the top managers I have had. An organization that spends the energy and effort finding the right leaders to lead their teams will perform better from a business standpoint and will likely have more loyal and engaged employees. Here are the seven qualities that make a good manager.

They take a genuine interest in their staff as people

Great managers take a genius interest in who their employees are. They take the time to know their staff and take pride in getting to know that person. Why is this important? It’s crucial you know your staff to understand what drives them to work. My favourite managers have all done this well. I always felt they knew who I was as a person and what drove me (it wasn’t the money). Look for a manager who makes an effort to foster a professional and genuine interest in learning more about you.

Makes an effort to be aware of their bias

Everyone has a bias. As a manager, you must be aware of what yours are. A manager who has no idea of their bias or doesn’t admit to bias can lead to poor morale. Biases can be obvious, such as only promoting a particular type of individual or only having male or female managers within an organization. Great managers are aware they can have conscious and unconscious biases. They take steps to ensure their bias doesn’t result in them giving preferential treatment or penalizing staff based on those biases. Poor managers don’t believe in such a thing as biases, and as such, they don’t even care about conscious or unconscious biases.

They look to inspire, not manage.

Great managers understand their job isn’t to manage adults but rather to inspire them. They know the goal is to help each staff member be the best they can be given their talent and skills. Great managers take a genuine interest in getting to know each staff member. A manager needs to know you to understand who you are and how best to inspire you. Great managers focus on motivating and inspiring people because that’s the real core of their job. If people are motivated and feel inspired, their performance follows. If employees do not feel motivated or inspired about what they do, their performance will also reflect that.

Understands people work to live, not live to work

There was a time when people just worked to keep busy. Work-life balance was not even a thing. Today, work-life balance for most of us is a must. But the idea of having a balance between work and your family life isn’t a nice-to-do thing for great managers. It’s a must. Why? They understand that people perform better if they are happy with their personal lives. When people perform better, the company does better. It’s that simple. Great managers know this and always ensure personal life is well balanced with the demand of work.

They are effective at running the business.

So far, I have talked a lot about what you would consider personal characteristics, but that’s half the work. Great managers are also great floor generals. For me, managers operate like sports coaches. They need to create a winning strategy to win the game for their organization or team. They must understand their business and manage the business well. They have insightful industry insight and leverage their knowledge to ensure their team is always in a position to be successful. Much like a sports coach, it’s not the big things that make them successful. The small details everyone misses that notice ultimately lead their team to success.

A strong communicator and good interpersonal skills

This one is a given based on what I have outlined already. However, you would be surprised how many people get promoted to manager or leadership positions that lack interpersonal skills and are poor communicators. When I say communicator, I’m not talking about the need to be like Barack Obama. I’m talking about just being able to have a conversation with staff without making it feel weird or awkward. This skill is a must, and great managers have this at their core.

Takes responsibility for the team’s failure and defers success to the team

Managers who understand this concept celebrate their team’s success and take responsibility for their team’s failures. They know team failure is a team affair, not based on one person like a great coach. They understand that if one person fails, it means they and the rest of the team did not prepare enough.

Great managers are proactive in putting their team in a position to succeed. They look to offer their team members help and assistance to help them perform at the top of their game. They put all the items I’ve mentioned into action. They understand failure is a necessity for their team’s success. Great managers are not afraid of their team failing. They are fearful of them avoiding failure.

Those are my list of things that I think make a great manager. Feel free to share your comments on the ones you agree with or other characteristics you also believe great managers have.

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