How to Be an Agent for Change
July 15, 2015
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15 Traits of Successful Managers

Successful managers take their success in stride. They see the big picture and understand the underlying details. They are data driven, but sensitive to the nuances implicit in that data. They listen before they speak and speak up whether it is to deliver good news or bad. Like any skill, part of managing can be learned, while other aspects are the result of experience combined with intuition.

Following are traits and actions you can take to be a successful manager.

  1. Face challenges head-on – A successful manager is determined, motivated by the company’s mission, and committed to leading his or her team to success.
  2. Communicate – Successful managers are committed to transparency. They share information equally and provide feedback on a regular basis.
  3. Be responsive and respectful – Managers are empathetic and willing to listen to their employees. They understand the constant struggle many face around work-life balance. They know they can only ask an employee to go the extra mile so many times; they know if they ask too often they’re not managing well.
  4. Be willing to make decisions – A good manager knows the buck stops with them. When called upon to be decisive, they act based on a review of the facts available and their knowledge and experience.
  5. Take responsibility – As the bottom line, a good manager accepts responsibility and is willing to be accountable for their actions and those of their team.
  6. Be supportive – A good manager has an open door policy. He or she treats employees equally and fairly and can be counted on when something unexpected arises at home or at work. A good manager takes an interest in employees as people.
  7. Be optimistic but honest – Managing people successfully means inspiring them to reach goals they didn’t know they could reach. This means being positive and offering encouragement. It also means being honest with the team, or individuals, when things are not going the way they should.
  8. Be organized and plan-full – Being prepared to lead and managing to a plan involves a high degree of organization. It also requires as much flexibility as determination when conditions require rethinking a position, a strategy, or a goal.
  9. Surround yourself with good people – Good managers are not threatened by smart, capable people. They are confident in their own abilities and are looking to strengthen the team by bringing on the best talent they can find.
  10. Build trust – Building trust takes time. To do so means having a clear and well-articulated vision. A successful manager isn’t afraid to roll up his or her sleeves when the team needs assistance.
  11. Mentor – The best managers know that coaching is a critical component to their success. The best will often site a former boss who was willing to take them under their wing. They take their employees’ career goals seriously and support them by offering advice, support and additional training.
  12. Delegate – Perhaps the most oft repeated phrase when it comes to defining a successful manager; delegating is more than just assigning your work to others. It means knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses and making quick decisions as the business requires. It also means empowering individuals to take on new challenges and grow professionally in the process.
  13. Follow through on commitments – Promises mean nothing if they’re not kept. Whether it’s a pay hike or an opportunity for career development, keeping your word with employees is critical to building trust. Sure, things change; but this is where transparency and good communication are required to properly manage expectations.
  14. Share successes – For every individual to feel like part of the team, success should always be celebrated and shared. This applies to company successes as well. Reinforcing the mission inspires competition and drives further success.
  15. Be professional – Great managers lead by example. They also learn from their mistakes. They are competent, not arrogant, and confident without being overbearing, and are always willing to listen to opposing points of view. They are open, honest and direct with employees, while also being supportive.

A great manager is the type of person other hardworking individuals seek to emulate.