"What are the key characteristics of a great manager?" is one question that always gets asked. In particular: it's not an easy answer question because there isn't just one recipe for success.
One thing is clear, though. Great managers are influential and respected. Their staff loves working under their direction and the organizations love them for the value they create with their teams. Before you can be a great manager though, you got to be a manager, not just in title but also in behavior and then a good manager.
This article discusses six traits essential for being seen as an influential and respected leader.
1. Communicate effectively and often
The first and foremost trait is that you need to be communicative. You will not get anywhere if people don't know what you want from them or where they stand in your eyes, so being open with feedback and clear expectations of performance are vital.
One thing that often helps communication is the structure of one-on-one meetings, but you also need to be clear about the topics that should come up in these sessions.
If there is a particular goal or project, make sure they know what's expected and why it matters. Be honest with feedback, and don't be afraid to mention any mistakes because that's the only way they'll know how to do better in the future.
Communication isn't just about telling them what you want or expect from them, though – it's also vital for listening and accepting feedback. This especially goes for constructive criticism on your own performance as a manager. Good leaders encourage feedback, even if it's not what they want to hear.
2. Be a good listener
One of the essential skills for being a respected manager is being able to listen. Unfortunately, many people have problems with this because they think that listening equates to agreeing when that is not the case.
Listening is about actually understanding another person's point of view so you can help them better understand yours or, in some cases, themselves or their own position. If someone has a concern, then, as a manager, you must listen patiently until they have fully aired all grievances without interruption. And remember: don't get defensive because this will only make matters worse.
A good manager listens to understand and then makes decisions based on logic, evidence, constraints, and circumstances.
While it may seem difficult at first, being a good listener is a skill that can be learned with practice and patience - and the willingness to change your own behavior for things to improve for both you and your staff.
3. Lead by example
Leadership is about setting a good example, not making speeches.
Another essential quality is that you need to be a leader by example. This means being brave and confident enough to try new things, even if they seem scary at first. It also means taking responsibility for your own mistakes and stepping up when necessary or appropriate - as opposed to shying away from the spotlight.
This trait is about showing your staff that you are not afraid of being courageous, taking risks. Leading from the front by rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty is proven to be one of the fastest ways to earn your team's respect.
Leaders who can inspire, motivate and be innovative can make a difference in an organization - one small decision at a time. By continually striving for excellence while setting goals, these managers create a culture where employees want to do their best every day.
4. Provide clear goals and expectations
The next essential quality is that you need to be clear about your goals and expectations. This means being upfront with what they are supposed to do, why it's important, how they should go about doing it, and when the deadline is - so there can't be any confusion on either side.
This also helps them know if they are on track with their performance and if they need to make any changes.
It's crucial for managers to be honest, not just about the good things but also what needs improvement because people want feedback that is helpful and actionable. This means being clear about expectations of both themselves and their staff members and identifying those individual strengths and what they need to do to stay on track.
Being clear about goals also helps with motivation because it inspires people by giving them a specific purpose, meaning- something bigger than themselves or their personal success.
A good manager will set measurable objectives for the project at hand and identify which resources are needed to get the job done.
5. Build trust with employees
It is critically important for managers to build trust with their employees. After all, without trust, employees will not feel secure or motivated, and there's not much that such a team can accomplish.
Trust is achieved by communicating openly and honestly with staff members to solve problems before they escalate into something more serious.
A good manager builds trust by being transparent about the risks involved with accepting a challenge at the same time, reminding them of the potential reward.
If employees feel you have their back, they will be more open to trying new things and taking on new responsibilities. This fosters a positive environment of innovation and growth which in turn helps attract top-notch talent.
If you value honesty, openness, fairness, and integrity - these qualities will help form a bond with your staff that is critical to long-term success. After all, if trust is broken in one area, it can have consequences for everything else too (including team cohesion).
6. Encourage personal growth
Great managers encourage personal growth. This means being a good listener, offering constructive feedback, and mentoring your staff members on how they can continue to grow professionally. Mentoring is a great way to help staff members, whether they directly report to you or not, develop new skills or abilities that can help them reach their goals. Being a good mentor also helps establish you as a leader in the organization.
Encouraging personal growth takes some effort because it requires patience and work that doesn't directly translate to project outcomes - but the payoff in terms of higher motivation levels and increased engagement is worth the investment.
Teams, where employees feel their personal growth is valued, tend to be more productive and happy. And people don't want to work for a company where they feel stagnant, so the growth of individuals can directly translate into increased revenue in the long term.
A good manager will encourage their staff members by providing them with opportunities that are both challenging and rewarding: Making sure there is room for advancement within your department or company, setting aside time for career development, and ongoing training.
If you are a new manager or are trying to develop your managerial skills further, this blog post has some helpful tips for you. The good news is that there are many ways you can start developing the characteristics of a great manager. Whether it’s something as simple as listening more or providing clear expectations and goals for your employees to work towards- all these things will help make your team feel valued and appreciated.
If you have any stories about working with managers who were successful that you felt great working with, please share them below!