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12 must-have qualities of a manager and 20 other good traits

Strengths of a manager

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What makes a good manager?

A good management is essential, but it’s not always innate. The fact is, manager effectiveness can be strengthened, and ongoing training for your people leaders should be offered — even the natural born leaders — to enable them to be most effective

A great place to start is by asking yourself, “What are the qualities of a good manager?” Here we dive into how to identify the top qualities of a manager and the twelve trains to strive for when developing your people leaders.

What are qualities to look for in a manager?

Finding great managers takes time and skill in identifying what to look for. Organizations and employees today demand more from their managers. They’re seen as integral to the success of individuals, teams, and the organization itself.

Some things to look for in a manager include someone who:

  • Is results-oriented
  • Has an aptitude for providing coaching
  • Allows for autonomy and doesn’t micromanage
  • Has a clear vision and strategy for their team
  • Have the technical skills to do the job

Qualities of a great manager

The top 12 qualities of a manager

1. They build a work culture of mutual trust

Trust is an important element of leadership excellence. Building trust between employees and managers is essential for fostering more innovative and creative work environments. Employees need to feel safe and supported to bring new ideas and possibly risky experiments to your attention. Productive teams know that mistakes are just milestones on the road to the next great innovation.

2. They focus on employee strengths

A strengths-based workplace culture can be beneficial in a number of ways. By leaning into your employee’s strengths and helping individuals apply them to their work, you can help them develop a personal pathway to professional success.

Collaboration is also an important element of a strengths-based culture. Managers should encourage employees to work together and to learn from and leverage each other’s strengths. Doing so bolsters innovation and creative problem-solving.

3. They do not micromanage

Recognizing that “Teams with great managers were happier and more productive,” Google notes that successful leaders don’t try to rule over every detail. If you’re invested in your team’s success, you might fall into the trap of feeling that you have to guard every detail. In fact, micromanaging can erode worker initiative and damage employee motivation.

4. They are assertive

Naturally, assertiveness must be paired with empathy and diplomacy — but marketing guru Michelle Smith points out that fearlessness is essential in a manager. A leader must be able to overcome resistance, weather social adversity and get out in front to drive employee success.

5. They help develop employees’ careers

Have you been concerned that supporting your employees’ training and development may only prepare them to move on? HR best practices suggest otherwise: Google’s manager research shows that identifying opportunities for employees to master new skills actually builds your team’s depth and strength. Furthermore, you convey a powerful message that you care about your people’s personal well-being.

6. They handle pressure well

One of the key qualities of a manager is to be able to handle pressure well. As a manager, you’re held accountable for the performance of others, and there will be days where you feel you’ve got a target pinned to your shirt. A study at the Norwegian School of Economics placed emotional stability at the very top of a list of essential management traits. Your ability to take good care of yourself and withstand work-related pressure will keep you thinking clearly during periods of stress.

7. They communicate honestly

Like assertiveness, candidness has to be balanced out by a sensitivity to your workers’ perspectives. However, Harvard Business Review research notes that a great manager gives direct feedback and doesn’t hide truths behind a shield of politeness. The report found that “Subordinates felt they could always count on straight answers from their leader.” Your employees will have trouble improving if they don’t understand exactly which behaviors are problematic.

8. They are open to new ideas

As a manager, you need to keep an agile and open mind so you will notice when an operation can be improved. Yasmina Yousfi, Chief Business Officer at Cloudwave, comments that “Great managers let their team members share new ideas, and leave them room for creativity.”

9. They have strong analytical abilities

You may be a super-persuasive, charismatic people-person, and be skilled at communicating with your team — but those talents are still only part of the package. You’ll also want to leave yourself enough mental energy to maintain a good overview of your department’s workforce analytics. The Management Study Guide names a strong cognitive and analytic approach as one of their vital leadership traits, because it leads to good decision-making.

10. They recognize and reward good work

Only one in three U.S. workers “strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days,” according to research published by Gallup. The report points out that offering employee rewards and recognition is a golden opportunity for managers that is often overlooked. Employee recognition “not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention,” the study states.

11. They are a role model

As a leader, you set an example and express the diligence, enthusiasm and other skills that you expect from the people whom you manage. In a report by global research firm Universum, the ability to be a role model was one of the top two qualities that executives look for when they’re choosing new managers.

12. They communicate employee appreciation

Using employee rewards to let your team members know their efforts are appreciated has significant benefits throughout your organization. PR coach Kim Harrison points out that “Recognizing people for their good work sends an extremely powerful message to the recipient, their work team and other employees through the grapevine.” When you reward great work, you transform the entire climate of your company.

Other qualities or traits of a good manager

13. Leadership

Manager leadership is a trait that gives someone the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to achieve professional goals and to contribute to the organization’s success.

14. Communication

Communication skills are a crucial part of being an effective manager. Being a clear communicator allows you to explain concepts to your teams, build positive relationships, discuss your expectations, and evaluate results.

15. Decision making

Being a strong decision maker is important for a manager, as their teams look to them for guidance, experience, and insights. By having a track record of making sound, informed decisions, managers build trust and earn respect from their teams.

16. Problem solving

Problem solving is a must-have trait for effective managers. Whether it’s a challenge they identify, or an obstacle noted by a team member, having strong problem-solving ensures that their team remains agile and successful.

17. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an often-underrated trait of top managers. Being able to understand, relate to, and manage the emotions of others is a key skill among top managers because it allows them to relate to their employees as individuals and it nurtures a sense of inclusivity and belonging across their team.

18. Accountability

Accountability is a manager trait that ensures that employees feel supported by their leader. When a manager is accountable, they take ownership of their decisions, successes and mistakes, and help their team to do the same.

19. Creativity

Creativity is an important manager trait because it allows for outside-of-the-box thinking, allowing teams to be more innovative in their approach to problem solving business challenges.

20. Organization

Organization is a common manager trait among effective leaders. As a manager, it’s critical to keep your goals, and the goals of the team organized and on-track.

21. Confidence

Confidence is a leadership must, as employees look to their manager for direction and support. It’s important to demonstrate confidence as a manager in your abilities, your team members’ abilities, and in the organization as a whole.

22. Honesty

Honesty is one of the most important traits a manager can embody. Without honesty, there isn’t trust between a manager and their teams, which is critical for shared success.

23. Optimism

Optimism is a trait at the cornerstone of success, happiness, and wellbeing, for both managers and their employees. Having a positive outlook helps managers keep their teams engaged and productive.

24. Conflict resolution

Manager conflict resolution is a skill that allows leaders to identify and address issues within, or impacting, their teams.

25. Self-awareness

Self-awareness as a manager trait means that leaders can self-reflect and identify areas of opportunity for personal growth to allow them to become a better manager.

26. Motivation

Exhibiting motivation and being able to motivate others is an important manager trait. Without it, leaders are not able to inspire and get the best out of their team members.

27. Delegation

Managers who demonstrate the trait of delegation are often better able to get more done by leveraging the strengths of each of their team members to achieve shared goals.

28. Integrity

Manager integrity is an important trait for ensuring that their team members respect and are inspired by their leader.

29. Strategy

Having a strategy is a differentiating manager trait. Great managers create a plan and pathway to success for those on their team and ensure that it aligns with the priorities of the organization.

30. Time management

Manager time management is a trait that helps them as a leader, and their teams, be more efficient with their workday to achieve the best possible results in attainable timelines.

31. Knowledge

A manager’s knowledge of the industry, organization, its systems, and their teams’ capabilities is a key trait among top performing manager. Without a complete understanding of these areas, it is difficult to be an effective leader.

32. Transparency

A manager providing transparency when communicating and working with their teams is a key trait, one that’s important for rapport building, establishing trust, and nurturing a positive corporate culture.

How many must-have qualities of a manager do you possess from the list above? Each manager brings different strengths to the table, and you can use this checklist to identify those areas where you can up your game. Your organization will benefit: Gallup research shows employee engagement can double when management talent improves, and this results in an average earnings rise of 147 percent per share.

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