10 Traits of Great Managers

by Greg Skloot
Management   |   5 Min Read
great people manager

Whether you are running a restaurant or tech startup, there are several universal traits that make you a great people manager. Here are the top 10:

1. You are an excellent communicator

The #1 required skill for managers is communication. Miscommunication is often the biggest cause of distress on a team of people. Being an excellent communicator means that you articulate a clear strategy, set relevant goals and are available to help your team when they get stuck on a challenge.

2. You can say “no”

Good people managers need to keep their team focused, and that means saying no to lower priority initiatives that will be a distraction. This can be particularly tough if the low priority item is a suggestion made by a valued team member. Effective managers need to explain the logic for how objectives are prioritized in order to win the team’s buy-in.

3. You are inspirational and energized

As the manager, if you are not engaged and energized, how can you expect the same from the rest of the team? A good manager inspires the team to accomplish tasks and achieve success. To be sure, many successful managers can be soft spoken. Inspiration can come in many forms, as long as it results in a team that is excited about the mission.

4. You are organized and methodical

To keep a team aligned, good managers must stay organized and operate in a methodical way. This includes having weekly staff meetings, sticking to 1–1 meetings, making task lists and doing status updates each week.

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5. You are practical and grounded in reality

Employees look to their manager to set expectations for what deliverables are feasible and expected. If a manager is constantly pushing employees to accomplish unrealistic goals, the team could burn out. Effective managers are aggressive and simultaneously practical, understanding what is on everyone’s plate and assigning projects accordingly.

6. You help your team learn and grow

A good people manager can be thought of as a coach. The more you coach your team, the stronger and more capable they become. Good managers are constantly teaching and explaining complex issues in simple ways. As a manager, think through each team member’s progression path and how you can help coach them to be successful.

7. You are capable of doing yourself what you ask of others

It’s tough to respect managers who are not able to do things that they asks of others. If you are managing marketing, you should certainly understand the high levels of each marketing tactic the team is executing, and perhaps prior to being a manager you were an individual contributor doing those same marketing tactics.

8. You provide guidance, not always directives

To help the team learn, sometimes it is best to make suggestions rather than directions. This can be as simple as giving feedback in the form of “consider doing it this way” rather than “do it this way.”

9. You define success in a clear way

Effective managers excel at defining success and establishing clear goals that can be measured. A frequent source of dysfunction in teams is ambiguity, so managers can eliminate many problems just by being clear on the priorities.

10. You listen more than you speak

Good managers give their employees time to vent and speak their opinions before jumping in with recommendations or solutions. This helps employees feel heard, and creates an environment where everyone is comfortable sharing ideas.

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