It goes without saying that your company needs good managers. Someone who will keep your best people motivated, encourage them to go the extra mile and make them feel valued. But finding and hiring successful managers can be tough, so we’ve collated a list of what we think are the superstar qualities to look out for to ensure your next hire becomes a key member of your leadership team.
Candidates who project confidence in their abilities are much more likely to inspire their team and command respect. A successful manager will often need to make snap decisions with conviction and have staff trust in their judgment. As Amy Gallo put it in a Harvard Business Review article on confidence, "Very few people succeed in business without a degree of confidence."
2. Communication skills
Excellent communication skills are very much a necessity when it comes to leadership. As an advisor in leadership to Fortune 500 companies, Mike Myatt knows how essential communication skills are, “It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator”. It’s one thing for a manager to know what needs to be done, and another to be able to clearly communicate this to his or her team. Good communication skills ensure that all team members are on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Employees need to feel comfortable approaching their manager with any concerns or questions they may have. By being open and transparent a successful manager can instil trust within their team, and trust creates loyalty, a powerful tool in any business. In 2002, Kurt Dirks and Donald Ferrin collected research on trust in leadership from over 27,000 people in 106 different studies. They found that employees who feel they are treated more fairly in processes and decision making have greater trust in their boss, leading to higher job satisfaction and more commitment to the company.
One of the biggest challenges of being a successful manager is keeping calm when the pressure is on. Business consultant Glenn Llopis stated in a Forbes article that in an ever evolving business environment, “Leaders need to show more composure than ever before in the workplace.” We’re all human, and managers don’t need to be emotionless robots, but it’s important to keep emotions in check during stressful situations.
A positive attitude can go a long way. It’s important to keep a team happy and driven towards the continued success of the business. By creating a positive working environment, workers may be more motivated to come in early to get a head start on that report or work that extra hour to finish a project. Author of The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World Jon Gordon spoke to Forbes about positive leadership and his belief that positive leaders "unite the organisation, they unite the team, they bring people together to work together; to create one team with one plan and one goal, all working towards the same vision and purpose."
It’s great to be friends with your team, but a successful manager needs to assert their authority as the boss. Authority can be earned by setting clear expectations. For example, setting targets for employees over a set period of time and regularly reviewing performance. According to Lucas Pols, founder of Spark xyz, in his article Leadership: Power Versus Authority, "Authority comes from influence -- cultivating a desire in other people to work for you. You can create this authority by removing the barriers facing employees and by being trustworthy, caring, committed, selfless and, most importantly, an incredible listener."
If you have ever worked for a manager who only gives the best opportunities to their ‘favourites’ and treats people with different standards of accountability, you will understand how destructive this approach can be to team morale. A successful manager is one who treats every person in their team equally and delegates responsibilities fairly. This can avoid conflict in the workforce and help to retain good employees. After all, people often leave bad managers, rather than bad companies. This was affirmed in a paper in the Journal for Business Ethics conducted research with 100 French companies which showed a strong correlation between those leaders who inspire change and those with a reputation for fairness. It concluded, "An effective and good leader needs also to be fair with his employees in order to retain them and motivate them to accomplish the work".
A strong manager needs to lead by example and show commitment to the company and to the team. If they are willing to roll up their sleeves and do some of the ‘menial work’ it can demonstrate that they are a committed team player and not above getting their hands dirty.
Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst Prudy Gourguechon wrote about empathy as a leadership skill in a Forbes article stating, “Empathy enables you to know if the people you’re trying to reach are actually reached. It allows you to predict the effect your decisions and actions will have on core audiences and strategize accordingly. Without empathy, you can’t build a team or nurture a new generation of leaders. You will not inspire followers or elicit loyalty.” A successful manager understands the importance of treating staff as human beings and not just cogs in the wheel and sees how it will strengthen the relationship between worker and leader, resulting in loyalty and increased productivity.
10. Organisational skills
A successful manager is an organised manager. They will need to juggle report deadlines, managing budgets and staff training; they know what needs to be done and when. They understand the needs and goals of the business and how to delegate tasks to their team to achieve these goals.
A manager in possession of most or all these 10 qualities is likely to be a successful manager and help you and your company achieve its goals.
If you’re looking for other ways to improve the performance of your team, we’ve got guides on how to increase employee productivity in the workplace and how to promote a positive company culture alongside plenty of other insights, such as tips on employee retention and more.