Being a good manager and leader isn’t about having all the answers or micro-managing every little detail. It’s about creating a positive work environment where your team is competent and productive, and feels motivated, respected, and ready to exceed expectations.
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers’. This couldn’t be truer. As a business owner, it’s crucial to recognize that your leadership style directly impacts your team’s happiness and, hence, their performance and ultimately, your bottom line. So, how can you become a better manager and the kind of leader that people want to work for?
What Makes a Good Manager?
A good manager has a mix of several important qualities. First and foremost, they should be a great communicator. It’s their job to easily and effectively share the company’s vision, goals, and expectations with the team. This also means giving helpful feedback to team members to help them grow and improve. Their job is essentially to help the team to be competent and productive, which involves overseeing both people and processes.
Think of it this way: you manage the process and lead the people.
This is why it’s important that a good manager understands the power of empathy. They should be approachable and willing to listen to their team’s concerns and ideas, showing you care about them as individuals, not just what they can produce. By creating an environment that values open and effective communication, trust, and respect, they make their employees feel valued and heard.
Lastly, a good manager leads by example. They’re not just bossing people around – they’re right there in the thick of it, showing hard work, dedication, and a positive attitude, and they are ambassadors of the company’s core values. When a manager displays these top qualities, they’re not just managing their team – they’re inspiring them to be better.
Qualities of a Good Manager
A managerial role goes beyond overseeing daily operations. These leaders are the ones setting the tone for the entire workplace. They are responsible for nurturing a positive culture, driving productivity, and investing in the professional growth of their team. In essence, a great manager is the engine that propels a business forward. Now, let’s unpack the key attributes that make a manager truly stand out.
1. Inclusion of all team members
Being inclusive is a crucial quality of a good manager. A manager who values inclusion ensures fair treatment of all team members, giving them tasks and schedules that consider their abilities and goals. They don’t just assign work; they help each team member grow and cultivate their talents. They appreciate good work and provide recognition and praise. This creates an environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best.
Moreover, an inclusive manager supports and values diversity in the team. They understand that a diverse team brings different ideas, perspectives, and solutions, sparking innovation and creativity. They encourage different ways of thinking and create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, even – or especially – if they are different from your own.
2. Good communication skills
Good managers understand that communication goes both ways and involves more than just sharing information. They take the time to listen to their team, have open conversations, and encourage everyone to share their ideas and concerns. They also recognize that it’s their job to clearly and consistently communicate priorities and expectations and even adjust their communication style to fit a specific person or circumstance.
In order to be an effective leader, you have to challenge yourself to communicate with others in the way they need to be communicated with – which might be different from your natural or preferred style of communication. Your ability to adapt to different people and circumstances directly impacts your ability to influence the team.
An effective manager also understands the organization’s vision and is responsible for explaining it to their team. They make sure that every person understands their role and how it contributes to the organization’s goals. Regular updates, discussions on new strategies, and feedback on individual performance are all part of their ongoing communication.
3. Listen to all members of the team
A truly engaged manager is an active listener. They don’t just hear what their team says – they listen, understand, process, and close the loop. They give their full attention to the person speaking, acknowledging their thoughts and ideas, and when necessary, follow up to let the individual know the outcome or response to their feedback. By doing this, they show that they value and consider each team member’s input.
Moreover, good managers not only welcome employee feedback but actively seek it. They understand that feedback is a valuable resource for constant improvement and innovation. By asking for feedback, they create an environment of respect and open communication, where every team member feels appreciated, and is rewarded for giving their best.
An open-door policy during set office hours is another characteristic of good managers who listen. They make themselves available, inviting team members to come to them with any ideas, concerns, or issues. They know that every conversation is an opportunity to learn something new, gain a fresh perspective, or discover a potential improvement.
4. Vision of effective managers
A good manager is more than just a boss – they’re a leader. See, anyone can have the job title of “manager” but “leader” is not a job title – it is a gift employees give when they choose to follow you, not because they are required to take orders from you. This takes the role beyond helping people to be productive, to keeping them aligned with the core purpose of the organization, igniting passion, motivation and focus.
Their ability to articulate a clear vision gives the team direction and purpose. They make sure everyone knows where we’re going, what role they play, and how their work matters. This helps each team member see how their work fits into the bigger picture and contributes to the organization’s success.
5. Confidence and employee engagement
A successful manager shows confidence, but this is not just about asserting authority. It’s about being sure of their decisions, giving clear direction, and standing by their team. A confident manager creates a sense of security and trust among members. They know their leader is reliable and sure-footed, which helps them to be more confident in their own roles.
Along with confidence, high employee engagement is vital for a thriving team. A good manager understands this and works to create an environment where everyone actively participates. This means more than just having employees who handle their assigned tasks—it’s about making everyone feel like they are an important part of the team. Engaged employees feel connected to their work, understand their role in the larger organization, and are motivated to go beyond their basic job requirements.
An effective manager fosters employee engagement by recognizing individual achievements, providing opportunities for professional growth, and keeping communication open. Regular feedback and acknowledging good performance are essential in making employees feel valued and excited about their contributions. Ultimately, a manager who combines confidence with a strong focus on employee engagement creates a dynamic, productive, and positive work environment.
6. Good organizational skills
One of the must-have qualities of a good manager is the ability to stay organized and build effective systems. They are good at planning and prioritizing tasks, efficient with time management, and keeping track of multiple projects at the same time. This keeps the team running smoothly and sets an example for everyone on productivity standards, as well as the importance of systems. After all, if your desk looks like a bomb went off, you can hardly expect the production staff to keep their workstations or vehicles in tip-top shape.
A well-organized manager understands the importance of setting clear, achievable goals and creating action plans to achieve them. They break down complex tasks into smaller parts, making it easier for the team to understand while still keeping the bigger picture in mind.
They also know how to delegate tasks effectively. A good manager realizes that they can’t do everything on their own and that team members have unique strengths and abilities that can increase overall productivity. So they assign tasks to the right person, balance workloads, and encourage ownership and responsibility.
Furthermore, they stress the importance of maintaining organized systems for resources and information. This could be as simple as using a shared calendar, project management tools, or having a clear filing system. These organized processes ensure that important documents and resources can be easily found when needed and that team members can effectively cover for each other should someone be out unexpectedly.
7. Adaptability in work environment
In today’s fast-paced business world, being able to adapt to the current environment is a quality the best managers have. They understand that in a constantly changing marketplace, being flexible and ready for change is crucial. Whether it’s a shift in company strategy, introduction of new technologies, or a shuffling responsibilities to cover for an employee who is out ill, a good manager is able to adjust quickly and guide their team through the transition with minimal disruption.
An adaptable manager is also open-minded, ready to embrace new ideas and different perspectives. They are not afraid to reassess old ways of doing things and make necessary changes. This might mean learning new skills, trying different approaches, or adjusting processes to improve team performance. They are never content with the mindset of “this is how we’ve always done it.”
Equally important, they know how to encourage a culture of adaptability within their team. They motivate employees to be flexible, to learn and grow, and to be resilient in the face of change. By leading by example and being adaptable themselves, they inspire their team to do the same. This creates an environment that is dynamic, open to innovation, and prepared to tackle any challenge.
8. Responsibility in making decisions
A good manager understands the importance of the responsibility they carry when it comes to decision-making. They know that their choices have consequences not only for their team’s performance but also for the overall organization. As a result, they make decisions carefully, thinking about the potential outcomes.
Instead of avoiding difficult choices, an effective and efficient manager faces them directly. They gather all the necessary information, ask for input from team members or other leaders when needed, and consider how the decision will affect everyone involved. Then, they make the best decision they can based on what they know.
But part of effective management is also owning up to mistakes. Effective managers know that they’re only human and can make mistakes. When this happens, instead of blaming others or avoiding responsibility, they model ownership by acknowledging their errors, learning from them, and using these experiences to make better decisions in the future.
They also encourage employees to take responsibility in their roles. They empower them to make decisions, which creates a sense of ownership and independence. This not only leads to a more empowered team but also fosters an environment where everyone is dedicated to the success of the team and the organization as a whole. This combination of responsibility and empowerment is a key characteristic of a truly successful manager.
9. Honesty and integrity to build trust
Being honest and having strong values are the foundation of trust, which is crucial in a manager’s relationship with their team. An honest manager always tells the truth, is open about their decisions, and doesn’t hide information. This creates a transparent and trustworthy atmosphere within the team.
Integrity means staying true to your commitments and values, even when facing challenges. A manager with integrity treats everyone fairly and equally, no matter the situation, and they follow through on their promises.
Building trust through honesty and integrity not only boosts team morale, but also increases productivity. When team members trust their manager, they are more likely to take risks, collaborate, and share their ideas freely. They feel secure and motivated to do their best work. This leads to a thriving, productive culture and a successful team.
10. Defining expectations
Managers should communicate expectations clearly, precisely, and often. By defining what each team member should do, managers establish accountability and productivity. This could mean setting specific goals, outlining project scope, or clarifying roles.
Defining expectations gives the team a sense of purpose and direction. When people know what’s expected of them, they’re more likely to align with company goals and work towards them. On the contrary, if an employee is not meeting your expectations, you should evaluate if those expectations were clearly stated and understood in the first place. You might find that while you thought you communicated, your employee was not as clear as you thought.
Good managers not only set expectations, but also ensure they’re the right balance of being challenging, yet realistic and achievable. They consider their team’s abilities and potential, setting goals that stretch them, without overwhelming. This gives employees the opportunity to win, while continuing to step out of their comfort zone and grow.
Managers who define expectations regularly check in and review performance to ensure understanding and met expectations. When adjustments are needed, they provide support and guidance, not judgment and criticism. This ongoing dialogue and flexibility create a dynamic, responsive, and successful team.
11. Recognize and celebrate achievements
Recognizing and celebrating accomplishments is a crucial part of good management. Managers who praise their team members’ achievements create a positive and appreciative culture. Taking the time to acknowledge a job well done, whether big or small, can greatly boost morale and job satisfaction. It shows team members that their hard work is valued and appreciated, which motivates them to work even harder.
Recognition can come in many forms, from a simple “thank you” to more tangible rewards like bonuses or promotions. Some employees may prefer to public recognition of achievements during team meetings or the company newsletter, while others may prefer a more personal approach like a one-on-one conversation or a handwritten note. The important thing is to be genuine and specific when recognizing someone’s achievements, highlighting their effort, their character, and the impact of their work.
Celebrating accomplishments isn’t just about individual successes; it’s also about recognizing team victories. When the team reaches a milestone or achieves a goal, find ways to celebrate together. It can be as simple as sharing a meal or organizing a team outing. These celebrations not only reinforce a sense of shared success but also help build stronger relationships within the team.
12. Set a positive example and show emotional intelligence
Being a good leader means setting a positive example. Managers who show a positive attitude and work hard inspire their teams to do the same. They lead by doing, not just by talking. Their actions, like meeting deadlines, behaving professionally, treating others with respect, and staying positive during tough times, set the tone for the whole team. Their behavior becomes the standard for team members to measure themselves against.
Remember: The leader is the thermostat and the team is the thermometer. Whatever temperature you set, they will likely reflect.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize and appropriately manage or respond to both your own emotions and others’ emotions. A manager with high EI understands their own feelings, empathizes with their team members’ emotions, and handles relationships wisely and empathetically. They can navigate conflicts, give feedback constructively, and genuinely praise others. By creating an emotionally healthy, responsive, and understanding environment, they help foster better collaboration, strengthen relationships, increase job satisfaction, and drive the team’s overall success.
13. Delivering constructive feedback effectively
Giving helpful feedback is crucial for your team’s growth and development. Great managers know how to provide feedback in a way that encourages improvement, instead of making people defensive or upset. To give helpful feedback, managers should be specific, timely, and positive.
Being specific is important. Instead of giving general feedback, good leaders provide clear and actionable advice. For example, instead of saying “You need to be more proactive,” you could say, “I’d love to hear more of your ideas during team meetings.” Or instead of saying, “Why did you [insert mistake]…?”, lead with curiosity and ask how they came to that line of thinking, then help them identify what they can change to get a better outcome the next time.
Timing is also important. Don’t wait for the next performance review. Giving feedback right after something happens is usually more effective because it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. It helps the team member understand the feedback in the right context and make necessary changes quickly.
Lastly, having a positive or growth mindset makes a big difference. Constructive feedback shouldn’t just be a list of criticisms, but should focus on how the team member can grow and get better. Talking about the potential benefits that come with improvement helps motivate the individual to work on their weaknesses, or to further develop their strengths.
Tips to Help Your Team Succeed
In the complex world of business, no one can achieve success alone. It’s through the combined efforts and synergies of a team that true accomplishment is realized. This section aims to share strategies and tips that, when applied, can help your team flourish, perform at their best, and ultimately, succeed in their collective goals. A good leader doesn’t just lead, they empower their team to be leaders themselves, fostering a company culture of collaboration, accountability, and mutual respect.
Align your team’s goals to your organization’s goals
One of the key steps to creating an effective team is making sure that your team’s goals are in line with the bigger objectives of your organization. As Stephen Covey put it, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Keeping a clear sense of priority helps everyone work together towards the same end, which brings unity and focus.
As a leader, clearly and consistently communicate the organization’s mission, and show how individual tasks or projects connect to the bigger goals. This not only gives context and purpose to their work, but also motivates team members, knowing that what they do is important for the company’s success.
Empower Through Delegation
Great leaders understand the power of handing off tasks and leveraging the collective abilities of the team. Delegating is not just about sharing work; it’s about empowering team members, improving their skills, and boosting their confidence. When you delegate, you show your team that you trust their abilities and judgment, which can greatly lift their spirits and motivation. But delegation is a skill to be crafted.
A well-delegated project is one that matches the person’s skills and gives them an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s not about dumping work you don’t want to do, but about promoting growth and making work fulfilling. Start by clearly defining the task, provide the necessary resources, and explain what success looks like – including outcomes and timeframe.
If your team is less experienced, do frequent check-ins and even shadow the person; this will help you to identify any gaps in training before they spend too much time going down the wrong path. If the team is more experienced, step back, offer guidance when needed, but let them execute in their own way. This freedom not only leads to more engaged employees but also gives you more time to focus on important matters.
Set clear goals and expectations
Setting clear goals and expectations is a crucial step in ensuring your team’s success. It’s all about defining what success looks like and how to achieve it. Clear goals provide a roadmap that guides your team towards targets, while clear expectations set the standards for performance and behavior. As a leader, make sure to communicate and ensure that everyone understands.
For example, if you’re leading a project, specify the project’s objectives, deadlines, and quality expectations. Regularly check in with your team to discuss progress and address any issues – don’t wait until the deadline to find out if they are off track. Remember, goal setting should not be one-sided.
Encourage team members to contribute and provide their input. This not only gives them a sense of ownership but also fosters a supportive, growth-oriented environment. Lastly, always be open to feedback and willing to adjust goals and expectations as needed.
Leverage Advanced Collaboration Tools
In today’s technology-driven world, using advanced collaboration tools is a powerful way to improve communication, streamline processes, and boost productivity in your team. Collaboration tools like project management software (such as Asana or Trello), communication platforms (like Slack or Microsoft Teams), and file-sharing services (such as Google Drive or Dropbox) can greatly enhance how your team interacts and works together.
They create a central hub for team activities, eliminating the need for long email chains, promoting transparency and continuity, and ensuring everyone is on the same page. Additionally, these tools offer features like assigning tasks, tracking progress, and instant messaging, which encourage accountability and quick feedback. As a leader, it’s important to not only introduce these tools to your team but also provide training to ensure everyone can use them effectively.
A word of caution: have a few tech tools, but not too many. Align around one system for each key function, rather than each department using their own tool, which could create tech chaos as your organization grows.
Make time for team building exercises
Bringing people together is important for building a strong team, building trust, and improving communication. People are willing to work harder to support people that they actually know and have a relationship with, so team-building activities are a fun and effective way to boost collaboration and prevent silos.
Think of them as an investment in your team’s relationships. Simple activities like problem-solving tasks or outings can break down barriers and promote cooperation. They create an environment where team members can connect on a personal level outside of work.
These exercises can also uncover hidden talents that can help achieve business goals. As a leader, make sure everyone feels included and engaged. Use different types of activities that appeal to diverse personalities and interests, like brain teasers, games, getting outdoors, or charity events.
Better Managers, Better Goals To Achieve
The success of a business is directly tied to how well its team performs. The more the people grow, the more the company can grow. So every leader should make sure their team’s goals match those of the company, so everyone is working together with a clear purpose. Giving team members more responsibility not only helps managers but also helps team members learn and feel more confident and engaged.
Setting clear goals and expectations, along with open communication, leads to a well-guided and efficient team. Using advanced collaboration tools can greatly improve communication and productivity, and team building activities bring the team closer, build trust, and reveal hidden talents.
What are the top traits of a good manager?
Good managers have several must-have soft skills and key qualities that make them effective leaders. These essential qualities can be grouped into three main areas: communication, empathy, and guidance.
One common trait of great leaders is clear and frequent communication. Managers need to be able to clearly express their expectations, give helpful feedback, and also listen to the ideas and concerns of their team members.
Good managers know that empathy is another important quality for manager effectiveness. It means understanding the unique needs and situations of each team member, creating a supportive work environment, and addressing any issues that come up effectively. Lastly, the ability to provide guidance is vital. This management skill includes not only assigning tasks but also mentoring team members for their professional development and leading by example.
What are the common mistakes new managers make?
New managers often fall into a few common traps. One significant mistake is trying to do everything on their own, unwilling to delegate tasks due to a fear of losing control or because they believe no one else can do the task as well as they can. This not only leads to burnout but deprives team members of opportunities to grow and learn.
Another common mistake is failing to communicate effectively. This can be not defining clear expectations for team members, not providing feedback, letting accountability slide, or not listening to their ideas and concerns.
New managers also often struggle to find the balance between being a leader and a friend. While it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with the team, a manager must also be able to make objective decisions and provide constructive feedback. It’s a learning process, and mistakes are a part of the journey. The key is to learn from them, and consistently seek to improve.
What is the importance of fostering good managers?
Good managers are the backbone of successful businesses. They play a vital role in shaping the organizational culture, fostering collaboration, and guiding their teams to achieve company goals. When managers perform well, they build engaged, motivated, and highly productive teams that directly contribute to customer satisfaction and the bottom line.
Additionally, competent managers recognize and nurture potential in their team members, promoting professional growth and improving retention rates. Lastly, good managers are instrumental in making day-to-day business decisions, managing resources, and ensuring smooth operational processes, all of which drive business growth and sustainability.
What are the four keys of great manager?
A great manager is often defined by four key characteristics: communication, empathy, guidance, and strategic thinking.
Communication: Great managers communicate clearly, frequently, and in a way that motivates and informs their team. They set clear expectations, provide constructive feedback, hold people accountable, and are open to dialogue.
Empathy: Exceptional managers are empathetic, understanding the perspectives and needs of their team members. They create a supportive work environment, address individual needs and concerns appropriately, and recognize the unique strengths of each team member.
Guidance: Successful managers provide guidance, serving as mentors, coaches, and role models for their team. They help their team members develop professionally, and they lead by example, demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes they expect from their teams.
Strategic Thinking: The best managers think strategically, understanding the bigger picture and aligning their team’s work with the company’s overall objectives. They’re skilled at delegating tasks, managing resources, and making decisions that drive progress towards these goals.