posted August 10, 2017
It’s been said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. And judging by the number of times people change jobs over the course of their careers, it appears that a good manager is a rare gift.
What makes a good manager? Many share these seven key personality traits.
Everyone wants their leaders to be honest; however, the way in which that honesty is delivered can make the difference between a positive and negative encounter. A good manager handles every situation with diplomacy and tact, demonstrating empathy, emotional intelligence and politeness even when delivering difficult news. Diplomatic managers also support healthy, collaborative relationships within the workplace.
This means supporting compromise, actively listening to all sides of the story, never playing favorites, and maintaining an open mind, even when you’re inclined to disagree. Being diplomatic doesn’t mean sacrificing honesty in the name of keeping the peace, but rather seeking common ground and building connections through polite and tactful communication.
When people are asked to describe a poor manager, one trait that often comes up is a lack of compassion. Poor managers create the impression that they don’t actually care about the people working for them, that they just want the work done. They are selfish, focused on their own needs and how everything affects them, not how their decisions and actions affect everyone else.
Good leaders, on the other hand, actively demonstrate caring for their people by listening, focusing on the “we” instead of the “I,” and empower and encourage people to seek excellence and grow. They give credit where credit is due, are empathetic toward the needs of their employees, and specifically focus on maintaining morale. In short, they recognize that their subordinates are people, not robots, and they treat them as such.
One of the key responsibilities for a manager is motivating employees, but if they lack motivation themselves, it’s going to be all but impossible to spur others to care as well. Great managers are intrinsically motivated to achieve great things, and they seek to embody the mission and vision of the company.
Motivated managers lead by example, keeping a positive attitude even in the face of challenges. They take pride in their own work and encourage their employees to do the same. They don’t rest on their laurels, using their position to avoid actually working in the name of “supervision.” When necessary, they will roll up their sleeves and work alongside their team.
Good managers focus on building a culture of mutual trust. They empower people by trusting them to know how to do their jobs and do them well, while also acting in such a manner that others trust them. They demonstrate integrity in everything they do, with their actions matching their words.
Trustworthiness in management can inspire innovation. According to the Harvard Business Review, when there is mutual trust between managers and employees, people are more comfortable taking risks and trying out new ideas because they are confident that their manager has their back. Instead of sticking to the status quo, good managers cultivate innovation by developing collaborative, creative relationships built on a foundation of trust.
Managers are constantly juggling multiple priorities, projects and people. The ability to keep all of these plates spinning at once is an essential skill for any manager. You can’t afford to waste time looking for information, missing deadlines, or falling behind on tasks because you’re disorganized.
Just as important, though, is that disorganized managers fail to inspire confidence among their people. It’s difficult to be motivated by someone who consistently drops the ball on important projects or who doesn’t have clearly identified goals and a cohesive strategic plan for meeting them. No one wants to work in a department that feels scattered and disorganized and frantic. With an organized manager, work tends to flow more smoothly, and problems are solved more quickly.
When there are problems in your organization, how do managers respond? Effective managers don’t waste time playing the blame game and attempting to shift responsibility. Instead, effective managers focus on finding solutions, correcting problems and creating protocols to avoid future problems.
This doesn’t mean micromanaging people, either. Good managers empower their people to solve problems using creativity and innovation, while also listening to them and helping eliminate roadblocks that keep them from achieving results. For example, an effective leader regularly checks in with people to ensure they have the tools and support they need to do their jobs. When gaps are identified, they work to close them, demonstrating compassion while solving the problem.
Communication skills are one of the most sought after traits in managers, and with good reason. In a survey by Robert Half International, 30% of the respondents said that their leaders could improve in the areas of communication and diplomacy. Although honest feedback, making yourself available and keeping people in the loop are at the top the list of effective communication skills in managers, it’s also vital for managers to be articulate. We’ve all encountered people who struggle to express themselves, leading to confusion, frustration and misunderstanding. A leader that can clearly identify, express and share their thoughts and ideas is one that can effectively lead a team to success.
Good managers don’t fumble with their words, use vague terms and buzzwords that circle around information, or require people to ask exactly the right questions to find out what they know. Articulate managers are capable of providing information that’s direct and to the point and isn’t open to interpretation. They can be assertive and share bad news, but diplomatically, and they remain calm and clear in all situations.
If you’re interested in developing skills to become a great manager, a good place to start is by pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Columbia Southern University. For more information, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Business.