Employee Motivation

Best Traits & Qualities that Make a Great Manager & Leader

A manager can make or break an employee’s experience. That’s why one in two employees have left their jobs to get away from their manager at some point in their careers. Conversely, having a strong manager is known to produce more engagement, increased productivity and higher brand loyalty. All of this begs the question: what makes a great manager? While this definition may vary depending on the individual, we believe there are key traits of a manager that every strong leader should have.

1. Trusting

Everyone knows that trust is an important component of any strong relationship. It’s no different when it comes to the manager-employee relationship. While challenging to develop, there’s a reason why trustworthiness is one of the traits of a good manager: 61% of employees say trust between them and their senior management is very important to job satisfaction. You can build trust by giving your employees the space to make mistakes, encouraging them to take on new challenges or seek solutions, and not micromanaging their work.

2. Empathetic

Once upon a time, a manager’s only role was to play the boss. But times have changed and companies today are focused on building strong relationships with their employees to increase retention and engagement (among other things). That’s why some of the best manager qualities include having compassion and empathy. These characteristics of a manager can facilitate productive conversations, encourage employees to be honest, and lead to a more positive company culture. If you’re not a naturally empathetic person, don’t worry! Studies have shown that empathy can be learned.

3. Goal-Driven

While the people-focused traits of a manager are incredibly important, characteristics that help move the business forward - such as being goal-driven - are crucial as well. Without the ability to propel a team forward toward a shared objective, managers can inadvertently lead their team in the wrong direction or waste valuable resources. Not to mention that a lack of focus will ultimately set employees up for failure, or worse, hinder their development. That’s why being goal-driven is one of the management attributes we recommend developing.

4. Motivating

Employees are human beings. They have good days and bad days, as well as periods of high productivity and periods of low productivity. That’s why one of the best manager qualities is the ability to motivate others. There are a number of ways managers can help their employees get out of a rut, and one of our favorites is to give recognition where deserved. Whether it’s sending a heartfelt ‘thank you’ note or providing gifts for employees in the form of experiential rewards, there are tons of benefits that come with demonstrating employee appreciation - including the fact that when companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% of them see a positive impact on engagement.

5. Strong communicator

Managers, more than anyone else in an organization, need to be strong communicators to deal with the diverse situations they’re exposed to. For instance, managers are responsible for regularly sharing positive and constructive feedback with their employees. If a manager is indirect, long winded, and strikes the wrong tone during a performance review or weekly check in, it impacts employees negatively. They may walk away from a conversation unsure of the takeaways or without a clear picture of where they stand. This is why one of the qualities of a successful manager is excellent communication skills.

6. Composed

Things happen. Deadlines are missed, mistakes are made, and customers complain. One of the qualities of a good manager is the ability to maintain a cool head while leading their team through these obstacles. The worst thing a leader can do is panic and take out their stress on employees. This type of toxic behavior can make employees afraid to fail or open up to their managers, which affects productivity levels and the bottom line.  

7. Supportive

A supportive manager plays a critical role in the career development of their employees. Being supportive means being able to listen to what your employee really wants (not just making assumptions), identifying how they can move in the direction they want, and providing the resources or guidance they need to succeed. With these manager qualities, employees will not feel like you genuinely care about them as people, but they’re also likely to perform better if they’re doing work that matters to them. A report by Harvard Business Review also found that 9 out of 10 people are even willing to take a pay cut for meaningful work, which again demonstrates why supportive manager qualities are so important.

8. Open Minded

As a manager, you’ll work closely with individuals who come into the company with diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking. Instead of shying away from the challenges that come with working with people who differ from your methods, embrace them and focus on developing one of the traits of a great manager: open mindedness. By welcoming new ideas and thoughtfully considering people’s perspectives, you’ll connect with your employees on a deeper level and your business will see additional benefits like more innovation and increased revenue.

Hopefully this post addresses your question as to what makes a good manager. If you don’t think you embody all of these manager characteristics, it’s ok! The great news is that all of these traits can be developed over time. Start with a few that are personally meaningful to you and work on strengthening them through practice, feedback, and iteration. Trust us, you’re sure to see positive outcomes as a result.

If you’re looking to further strengthen the employee-manager relationships at your organization, consider the power of manager-driven recognition programs. Reach out via the Request Demo button at the top or start a conversation in the Live Chat window at the bottom right corner to learn more.

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