4 personality traits that make you a great manager

I know what it’s like to be excited to complete a project, and what it’s like to dread going to the office. The difference often has to do with who I’m working for, not what I’m working on. Ever find yourself excited to work on a project because you want to impress your boss? If you have, then you probably are working for a great manager. No matter how long you’ve been in the workforce, you’ve likely experienced management to some degree, whether good or not so good. 

But what makes a manager great? And how can you tell the difference between someone who really cares about your work and someone who only cares about the numbers? I’ve discovered four key traits that I think all great managers exemplify. Here are a few characteristics to help you identify a great manager. Who knows, you might even be one yourself. 

  1. You don’t think you are good at management. This might sound surprising, but let me explain. The best managers are the ones without an ego complex, who are open to ideas and feedback. Imagine working for someone who is trying to prove themselves to their own boss by convincing everyone they are a great manager. (Hint: unless you own the company, everyone has a boss they are typically trying to impress.) Someone who views themself as a “good manager” will be more closed off to feedback or constructive criticism, because they are already an expert at what they do. They might even see the work of the people they manage as a reflection of themselves which adds unnecessary pressure. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t think of themselves as a professional manager is more flexible and open to new ideas; two key characteristics of successful people in management. 
  1. You love learning new things, but haven’t really thought about teaching. If you enjoy learning, then you remember what the learning process is like. (Disclaimer: you are ahead of most teachers out there.) The best teachers are the ones who love to learn and remember what it was like when they didn’t know something. If you can approach an idea from an outside perspective, then you will be way better at explaining the concept to someone new on your team. You might even find that you learn more about the concept yourself through teaching it to someone else. 
  1. You are quiet and enjoy listening before you speak up. When you hear “manager” you might be thinking of someone loud who easily captures an audience everytime they speak. Or maybe their words just magically formulate into a Ted Talk whenever they open their mouth. A piece of advice from the inside? No one likes being “lectured.” Some of the best managers out there are the quiet personality types who are really good at listening. If you are in a management position, you have to listen even harder to pick up on problems or suggestions that your team might have because you are the one with more authority. Your team is less likely to collaborate with you if they don’t have the opportunity to share openly with you. 
  1. You understand that everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn’t stop you from trying something new. When you work for someone who understands the learning process and doesn’t expect perfection, it is much easier to successfully grow your skills. Having empathy for someone else and being flexible will also make you an enjoyable person to be around. All of these characteristics will help those on your team enjoy working for you, which in turn means that anyone you are managing will put more effort into their projects. (You won’t have to do any micromanaging, which wastes everyone’s time.) 

Out of all of these characteristics, perhaps the most important is being open to feedback. If you have honest communication with your team about what you can improve (even communication-wise) you will be way ahead of the game. Always keep in mind that every person is different, so management isn’t a “one-size-fits-all.” Some ways of communicating might need to change based on the person. However, the more open you are to learning and growing, the better manager you’ll be.

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