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December 8, 2023
January 26, 2022

How to Be a Good Leader: 7 of the Best Manager Qualities to Develop

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Managers of all levels play a vital role in the success of your company. Not only are they leaders in their teams and departments, but their example also has a strong influence on the employees around them.

In fact, over 70% of variance in employee engagement scores are a result of managers. In other words, effective managers are key to keeping employees engaged, productive, and satisfied at work. Poor management, conversely, can lead to disengagement and high turnover.

Whether you’re a manager at your company and you want to improve your leadership skills or you’re an HR professional looking for training materials for all your company’s managers, we’ve got some of the most impactful traits of good managers. Knowing these management strengths will help you enhance your leadership capabilities and spread them to other leaders.

The Impact of Good Managers

Good managers influence nearly every aspect of a company, from the culture and the employee experience to the success of the organization as a whole. Here are some stats that show the impact of management can have:

Great managers make employees more engaged, productive, happy, and loyal. But bad managers often cause employees to quit.

7 Best Manager Qualities

There are many hard skills that managers need to help themselves and their employees to find success, such as setting SMART goals, maintaining a high work ethic, and staying conscious of budgets. However, for this list, we’ll focus on the soft skills that can strengthen a manager’s emotional intelligence.

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1. Good managers communicate well.

Being honest and transparent builds employees’ trust in management. Managers need to be open with their employees, and that openness should go both ways. Good managers give honest feedback and are open to feedback in kind.

The best managers also know how to communicate goals and expectations to employees to ensure that everyone knows what’s expected of them. And don’t forget, half of communicating is listening—the best managers listen to their employees and respond thoughtfully.

2. Good managers empower their employees.

In a nutshell, management is all about getting great work done through other people. Good managers know their employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and work preferences, and they empower those employees to perform their best.

This includes delegating tasks in an effective way, helping employees set goals for themselves, and providing the resources and guidance they need without micromanaging. With all this in mind, remember to work with your employees, not above them.

3. Good managers show interest in their employees.

To be a good leader, you have to take an interest in the people you manage. And not just in their professional lives—good managers learn about employees’ personal interests, families, and situations. This helps leaders be more empathetic and understanding.

Managers don’t have to be best friends with their direct reports, but they should be friendly and develop a healthy manager-employee relationship where employees feel valued and cared for.

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4. Good managers create a positive work environment.

The team needs to feel supportive and safe, and managers are the main foundation of the team culture. One of the best ways to do this is through recognizing employee accomplishments and milestones.

Recognize small things and large things, such as birthdays, a task well done, or a service anniversary. When leaders regularly offer praise, engagement, productivity, motivation, and performance all go up.

5. Good managers adjust their managing styles.

Different types of employees respond differently to different types of management styles. For example, high-maintenance employees may need more constant attention, affirmation, or feedback. On the flip side, self-managing employees respond to being left alone to succeed independently—and constant managing will annoy them.

Remote and in-office employees require different levels of support and care, as well. So do introverted and extroverted employees. This goes back to managers understanding their employees so that they know how to care for and support them in the most effective ways.

6. Good managers advocate for their teams.

Employees respond well when their managers show that they care for their well-being. Whether that means advocating to leadership for nap rooms in the office, more PTO, a bigger bonus, or even simply physical or mental health resources.

When employees want a change and their managers advocate for that change, employee trust is strengthened, even if the change doesn’t end up happening.

7. Good managers are role models of positivity.

Great managers are examples to their employees. When managers are disengaged, selfish, negative, unhappy, or lazy, employees are much more likely to mimic those behaviors. 

That doesn’t mean leaders have to be perfect; but it does mean that they personify company values, stay positive through challenges, and, if they have any critiques for the company or senior leadership, they only share that through appropriate channels.

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How to Support Your Managers

HR leaders and senior leaders can’t expect their managers to automatically know how to nail all of these traits. Becoming a great manager is a process, and the organization has ways to support and help managers improve.

In recent years, managers have struggled with burnout and disengagement, with 53% of managers feeling burned out (which is higher than the level of burnout in direct reports).

A big reason for this is that managers are stretched between multiple responsibilities, heavy workloads, and limited resources. Not only do managers have to succeed with their own work, they’re also responsible for ensuring their team members have the support they need to succeed, too.

Here are some ways to help managers feel less burned out and more engaged:

  • Recognize them. Managers do a lot, and they deserve to be recognized for their hard work just as much as their employees do. Recognition improves well-being, lowers turnover, increases engagement, and will help your managers feel valued and supported.
  • Bonus tip: peer-to-peer recognition allows employees to recognize their managers when they do something the employee appreciates, which will cause the manager to repeat that behavior. This strengthens team bonds and improves manager performance.
  • Upskill them. Manager dissatisfaction and burnout happens in part because they don’t have avenues of growth. Career development is important for everyone, and managers are no different. Ensure they have ways to learn new skills, gain new responsibilities, and have a way to grow their career in a way that’s meaningful for them.
  • Take pressure off them. Flexible work is one of the best cures for burnout. Ensure managers have as much freedom as possible to work in the way that best suits them and their team. Also, give them time to relax and recharge without work stress getting in the way.
  • Don’t overload them. Regularly assess manager workloads to ensure they aren’t drowning in work. Revise your workflows to give them time to take care of projects before new ones come around. And make sure the tasks taking up the majority of their time are ones they enjoy and have the resources to complete.
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Be the Best Manager You Can Be

Managing any number of employees is challenging for a variety of reasons. But we need good managers. It’s that simple. Businesses can’t excel without a network of managers who are happy, engaged, and supportive because without that, many employees won’t be engaged or productive.

As a manager, develop your soft and hard skills to better serve your team. And as a leader, help your managers balance their workloads, grow in their role, and enjoy the resources they need.

To learn more about how employee recognition can help both managers and employees, schedule a demo today.