In any workplace, the manager sets the tone. What manager traits help ensure success?
If a manager is encouraging, positive, and delivers feedback in a helpful way, the employees will respond in kind. If, however, a manager is negative, micro-manages their team, and doesn’t communicate effectively, then the workplace is in danger of becoming a hostile environment.
No one wants that!
Just as every human being is different, every manager will be different and bring their own personal qualities to the table. Their strengths and weaknesses will be determined by their own personality, their work history and experiences, and their goals for the company.
Although each person might bring unique qualities to the table, every manager that has ever been qualified as a “great boss” contributes in certain ways.
If you are in the position to hire for a management position you will also want to make sure that the people you are interviewing—and the one you eventually select—have the qualities that help create a positive and productive work environment and that encourage happy, satisfied employees.
Google, one of the largest companies out there, once executed a project in which they asked their employees one set of questions with the goal of collecting information on their best managers and what qualities they shared. Their results shows that the most effective managers:
- Coached instead of directed
- Asked for and rewarded results
- Communicated effectively
- Applied and taught applicable skills
- Strategized and developed a vision
- Trusted the creative process
Here’re some of the most important traits a manager should have in order to create a positive, productive environment.
Read on to see which ones you already have, and the ones in which you have room to develop stronger skills.
Types of Management Traits
The positive skills that a manager brings to the workplace can be divided into two categories: personality traits and day-to-day skills. Most people innately have some traits that come more easily to them than others, but all of these skills can be practiced and learned.
Personality Management Traits
These skills are a part of “who someone is,” and they will often be shown in areas outside of a manager’s work life while being brought into the workplace as well. People who are effective managers are:
- Emotionally intelligent
- Able to read and exhibit body language effectively
- Effective communicators and listeners
- Confident decision-makers
- Positive and respectful
- Flexible and easy-going
- Honest and unselfish
- Goal-setters who focus on the task at hand
Day-to-Day Management Traits
The skills that are often developed with on-the-job training and that come with much experience are also highly valued in managers.
Remember that a person who is coming into a management role for the first time might show these qualities in their mid-level employee work and can then carry them over to a management role.
Someone who has the following skills makes a good manager.
- Can easily balance work and home life
- Problem-solves and thinks critically
- Resolves conflict without negative effects
- Delegates when needed
- Sets and completes goals
- Manages time and stays organized
Management Traits Discussed in Depth
Now we will discuss each of these traits more deeply so that you can get a good sense of what they really mean and how they flush out in a work environment.
People who are emotionally intelligent are often described as empathetic. Empathy means being able to feel what someone else is feeling, and understand it.
However, emotional intelligence goes further than this.
People who are emotionally intelligent are self-aware and understand the breadth and depth of the emotions that people experience in myriad situations. They can not only express what they are feeling, but can control their emotions, as well as manage relationships positively.
A typical employee wants to be successful and productive. An emotionally intelligent manager will encourage these qualities instead of communicating in a discouraging way.
They will work with their team in a compassionate, kind manner while guiding the team on the path they want them to go.
Oftentimes, people who are emotionally intelligent are skilled in non-verbal intelligence.
This management trait involves being perceptive to body language, including posture, facial expressions, eye contact, hand movements, etc.
Non-verbal language emotes very subtle cues which can be difficult to learn, but are a very important part of understanding what someone is really trying to say.
Communication and Listening Skills
Communication is one of the most important management traits out there. If you team does not understand what you, as a manager, want or need, they will not be able to produce or achieve goals effectively.
A good manager will make sure their expectations are clearly stated and understood.
An effective leader also listens often and well. Your team members should be able to come to you with questions, concerns, and feel celebrated when they accomplish tasks.
Listening doesn’t just mean “hearing,” though. It means taking in people’s real feelings and implementing solutions when they need it.
A team needs a leader they can look up to. When a manager makes a decision, they need to stick to it.
There has to be a good mix between seeing where a hurdle or roadblock has come up and flexibly attending to it and pushing through to the goal because you know the end is worth the means.
Positivity and Respect
Positivity is contagious… in a good way! A manager sets the tone for the workplace, so one who has the management trait of positivity is sure to have positive team members.
Even if they don’t come in with a good attitude, they’ll develop one!
Positivity doesn’t mean having to be super high-energy all the time or to be jumping off the walls shouting. It simply means to have an encouraging, supportive nature.
Respect is closely related to this. Someone who is positive will treat others with respect, thinking about their feelings, needs, and desires. They will treat their team members the way that they themselves would want to be treated.
Flexibility and Ease
Managers who are flexible will understand that the people on their team are individuals and that they respond to direction differently.
Flexibility as a management trait means looking at the skills and strengths your employees have and building on those, rather than getting frustrated with their weaknesses.
You can alter the office processes and systems in small ways to make things flow more easily.
Honesty and Unselfish Behavior
Even if you are the office lead, this doesn’t mean that everything should revolve around you. An honest, unselfish manager will want the best for everyone in the workplace, not just themselves.
People see patterns of behavior when they are around others for a long time, and will start to realize if a leader is making policies that only benefit the upper chain-of-command or that get the higher-ups out of doing work, only to leave it to the mid-level employees. This will breed discontent and frustration.
Focused Goal Setting
A team looks to the manager for direction. When a manager sets goals and helps guide the team on the right track to get things done, the team feels accomplished and productive.
A good manager also models focus. Think about Michael Scott on “The Office.” Everyone knows he sits in his office and goofs off for most of the day, often distracting the rest of the community.
He doesn’t get respect or hard work, oftentimes because he doesn’t show it himself.
Everyone has a life outside of the office.
A good manager will not let their life frustrations carry over into the office space, but will compartmentalize and let things go that do not have anything to do with the team.
They will also be able to leave work at work, so that they can enjoy their family, hobbies, and outside interests. This allows a manager to refresh and reset so that they are ready to come back to work the next day.
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
A good manager takes problems and comes up with plans to overcome them in creative ways.
Not every problem can have the same solution, and sometimes new ideas are what is needed.
Thinking outside the box is a necessary management trait for a productive environment and an effective team.
No matter how positive an environment is, humans are humans and conflict is an inevitable part of that.
Conflict doesn’t have to be something negative, though!
If it is handled with respect, empathy, and flexibility (all good management traits!), then conflict can be turned into an effective tool for strengthening office relationships and effecting progress.
Even the best manager can’t do everything on their own, that’s why they have a team!
Effective delegation means being able to assign tasks where they can best be completed, with regard to a team member’s skills, strengths, and areas of growth.
An effective delegator will check in with team members without being a micro-manager.
Goal Setting and Completion
This management trait is closely related to delegation and communication.
A manager skilled in goal setting and completion will be able to set goals with the company vision in mind, create an efficient timeline, and encourage their team to get the work done well.
They will also recognize and reward completion, even with simple verbal acknowledgement.
Time Management and Organization
This skill is related to goal setting and completion.
An effective manager will be able to know what tasks take certain amounts of time and organize the smaller goals efficiently so that the team feels successful.
As you can see, there are so many management traits that people can have which come together to make a good manager who creates an effective, productive, positive work environment.
If you (or someone you have hired) already has many or most of these skills… great!
Try and encourage those skills to be used and find a place where you or they might strengthen others.
If you (or a manager who works for you) is struggling in any of these areas, the good news is that they can all be developed with positive guidance and practice.