A manager is made up of a multitude of characteristics that make them successful.
When it comes to measuring success, this is often set by others – from senior members of staff, to colleagues and clients – everyone’s views differ hugely.
If they want to be exemplary, managers must have a template that will effectively influence the opinions of others, and ensure that this framework is followed consistently. These are the five traits that an outstanding manager will continue to demonstrate.
1. Big picture thinking
Exemplary managers understand the goals and strategies of the business, as these will be the driver of every business decision that gets made. Part of this is having a deep understanding of the effects the projected outcomes will have on the team, their products or services, their clients, their suppliers, themselves and their own managers.
By doing this, managers can identify what needs changing in order to make improvements, from resources and client management to supply chain relationships and team productivity. The clearer an understanding they establish, the better equipped they will be to guide the team to be more productive, and to set more realistic goals for the team and the individual team members as well as themselves.
2. Goals and reviews
Successful managers will be results driven. The goals being set will tie into the organisations goals while being aligned with internal supply departments to ensure consistency and seamless execution. The manager will provide clear goals and direction to their team; often working with the team to clarify ‘how’ the goals are going to be met. The manager will work with the individuals with the aim of finding their own ‘why’, to ensure the team share the goals success and take accountability for their part in meeting the objectives.
A successful manager is a results-driven one. Individual and team goals should be aligned with wider company goals, in order to achieve results and a consistent working style. Having goals in place should see managers giving clear direction to their employees, and working alongside them to gain insight to what brings out the best in each individual.
An outstanding manager relies heavily on their ability to communicate. This could well be the most important trait of all. Lack of decent communication inevitably leads to failure, while success is often rooted in open discussion and understanding. They should know how best to deliver communication, and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not achieve results or inspire confidence in the team. There is a real requirement to customise their style to the individual. Managers should actively engage in two-way communication and invite participation and feedback, striking a balance between telling and asking. They will pose deep questions while avoiding making it feel interrogative. Their style is engaging, memorable and inspirational. They deliver feedback in a supportive rather than derogatory fashion, and conduct all communications with an appropriate manner that makes their team feel empowered to do their jobs better.
4. Learning environments
Recognising their team’s need to learn and grow in order for the company to remain a contender in a competitive market is vital for a successful manager. They will nurture an environment that does not place blame but still advocates accountability. In this way, individuals are given the space they need to expand and explore while knowing that a mistake will not be career limiting. It is important for managers to encourage a healthy degree of risk taking and problem solving to take place in a supportive environment. The ideal manager will get behind the individual’s ambitions and be instrumental in helping them to reach them, regardless of whether this ambition lies within or outside of the company. This approach will see a ten-fold return on investment from the individual.
5. Self-awareness/emotional intelligence
The outstanding manager will know their own strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge these traits and, where appropriate, actively seek assistance in overcoming them. They will work to improve upon their weaknesses while simultaneously strengthening and expanding their skillset. They own all of their actions and decisions – both positive and negative – and can be trusted to respond appropriately when mistakes happen. Importantly, they see mistakes as an opportunity to learn, rather than a chance for self-deprecation.
They will know their ‘buttons’ well, and take steps to avoid situations that may trigger overly emotional reactions, or otherwise manage their feelings. In this way, they can be sure of delivering an impartial and fair management style that takes the emotions of others into account. A successful manager will approach their team for feedback on their own management and working style to fine tune their approach. They promote themselves without arrogance and can accept criticism just as easily as they can compliments. They are insistent on sharing the spotlight and giving due credit. This mindset creates a win-win situation for all involved.
All of the above traits make for a manager that works towards their own success and that of each individual in their team. It can be easy to forget, but managers are individuals too! They know as well as anybody that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is ineffective. Managers have to acknowledge there are traits they can display that will support success and traits that will detract from it.
About the author
Margo Manning is a leadership coach Margo Manning, author of The Step Up Mindset for New Managers. In the last 15 years, Margo has been delivering talks as one of the UK’s top Leadership and Management Coaches and Facilitators. Margo is the architect of the 3:2 Management Model and subsequent 3:2 Management Development Programme that is delivered and adopted within many businesses, large and small, nationally and internationally. She has worked with new managers through to senior managers in companies such as Golden Sachs, Hobart Lovells, Brunswick Group, Tower Hamlets Homes, Aon, Balfour Beatty, Kantar and many more.