At my core I believe that great managers have one job: to get the very best out of the people they manage. While that premise sounds simple, the execution is hard.
Throughout my career I have had the fortune of learning from and working alongside some great managers. And I have also had plenty of exposure to bad leaders and individuals who have demonstrated poor management acumen. Fortunately, I am able to learn from my past experiences and implement the best tactics at my current position, the VP of Communications for Porch. In this role,
developing great managers is one of my primary commitments.
So, how do good managers become great managers?
It starts with understanding and ultimately excelling at the following seven traits.
1. Have great attitudes.
Attitude really is everything and great managers know that their energy and attitude sets the pace for the day. Whereas good managers stroll up the stairs, great managers run up the stairs.
They also know how to manage their poker face. Body language is a signal that people feed on; it is part of the human condition.
Lastly, a great manager knows when to hold certain situations lightly and when to drive certain situations with a high degree of urgency. Their communication is not hard to read or understand.
2. Are transparent.
You cannot be a great manager if you sugarcoat things. They must know how to speak to their reports in a way that is direct, factual and straightforward -- especially when it comes to bad news. They also get to the point quick and transition into solution-based thinking (versus wallowing).
Top-notch managers must also be transparent. This trait helps drive away any potential rumor mills before they open. They foster a culture of candor, making it easier for people to give meaningful real-time feedback.
3. Demonstrate maturity.
Great managers are able to regulate their emotions -- especially as it relates to representing and serving as an example of the company’s values. They do so, as they realize they serve as a megaphone for the values of the company and handle this responsibility with a high degree of character and maturity.
Internally, exceptional managers consistently fly above the noise and don’t get caught in emotional traps. They know that if they really feel frustrated, it is best to go for a walk. They don’t over-react and lose their cool in the office.
4. Remain flexible.
Great managers know that it is not all about them; it is all about the people. When things get bumpy they embrace ambiguity and make others comfortable in dealing with change. They also know that no two employees are the same and spend the time getting to know what motivates and challenges people. They ask questions and listen so they can setup a working relationship that is tailored to the specific needs of an employee (as appropriate and reasonable as possible).
5. Reinforce accountability.
Remarkable managers are obsessed with accountability. They realize that the success of their direct reports is their success. On the flipside, they share in failures and mistakes. They hold regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports and reinforce the outcomes they and the team are responsible for. They are vested in driving solution-based cultures and strive to build an environment of continued learning (versus finger pointing). Also, to keep staff focused, they make sure to handle and manage accountability conflicts as they come up (instead of letting things fester).
6. Get their hands dirty.
Great managers know in addition to being a leader, they are also teammates. They don’t just give feedback on problems; they help with implementing the solutions. These managers are very clear and realistic when it comes setting and communicating goals. Along the way they get their hands dirty and put in the work to ensure their direct reports are setup for success. They show them how to be successful if they are falling behind and demonstrate best practices to help guide them along.
7. Develop great talent.
The number-one advantage for a company having great managers is they develop great talent. They are able to get the right people in the right roles at the right time. They do this through the encouragement of mentorship opportunities and the implementation of a proactive plan for addressing career development interests, needs and desires. Great managers care about the future as much as they care about the present for both the business and the individual.