Who is the best manager you have ever worked for? And, what sets this person apart from other managers?
These are the first two questions of a Personal Best exercise that we facilitate at the beginning of every leadership workshop we hold for managers.
What we are told is encouraging. Why? Because the best managers seem to possess seven qualities that we all are capable of emulating. These qualities include:
The best managers are smart, but not always the smartest person in the room. They are, however, always well-informed and have a clear grasp of reality. They understand the work, the challenges that their people face and the key issues affecting individual and team success. They know the system, where to find answers to the most pressing problems and how to make good decisions.
The best managers operate from a set of beliefs that are non-negotiable. The most common of which are integrity, honesty, fairness and respect. They can be counted on to do what’s right – even when it’s not convenient or no one is looking. They are straight with people and they don’t dance around the truth. Their treatment of people is appropriate for the situation and considers the person’s needs. And, they remain respectful, regardless of the circumstances or a person’s status.
The best managers take the time to understand the needs of others and the support they require. Be it resources, training, removing obstacles or having their backs, they do everything within their power to support their people and set them up for success.
The best managers know how to bridge differences in backgrounds, education and experience so they can connect with others in a meaningful way.
They are equally at ease with field operators as they are with senior leaders. They are authentic and without pretense.
The best managers are there when their people need them. They take the time to answer questions, clarify expectations, serve as sounding board. They’re accessible because they feel responsible for their peoples’ welfare and believe they have an obligation to provide others with the benefit of their experience.
The best managers invest the time to develop their people in ways that go beyond providing prerequisite job training. They are intentional about providing opportunities that force people to get out their comfort zones. They appropriately stretch peoples’ limits and allow them to safely fail. Most importantly, they ensure the person applies what they’ve learned from the experience moving forward.
The best managers are not always inspirational. They do, however, always inspire confidence. Their team places their trust in them because they are competent, situationally consistent and have a track record of making sound decisions that lead to the right outcomes.
The above is not an exhaustive list of leadership traits, but a solid foundation that every leader could emulate to be a his or her personal best. How do you stack up?