Blue Steps With Gold Ball

A great manager is one who is well-respected and is liked by his team members, peers, customers, and higher-ups alike.  He is skilled, competent, and delivers results. 

What traits set apart a great manager from the crowd?  In this article I will discuss 5 traits of a great manager with the right attitude to succeed.  While the article is geared towards technology managers, the ideas discussed apply to other managers as well.

Trait #1: Trust Is Sacred

Trust is hard to build but easy to break.  A great manager takes every opportunity to build trust with his team and goes above and beyond in trying not to break it.  If there are times when he can’t keep his promise, for example, he takes time to genuinely explain why.

Similarly, a great manager trusts his team members and promotes an environment where they can trust him and openly share with him.  There are no secret agreements, no closed door meetings, no lying or hypocrisy, no back-stabbing, no credit stealing, and no unhealthy politics.  Decisions are made on the basis of merit, and are open to discussion if there are disagreements. 

Managers that promote trust in their workplace unmistakeably always gain a loyal and motivated employee base, and come out light years ahead of their peers who for one reason or another prefer a more political environment.

Trait #2: I Respect You, You Respect Me

Respect a person, and he will do the more (James Howell).  If you respect your employees, they will not only genuinely respect you back, but do whatever it takes to not loose that respect from you.  Yes, that includes working extra hard to get the job done, just so that they can hold up their image in your eyes.

A great manager promotes a culture of mutual respect and takes every opportunity to enforce it.  He does not demand respect, he rather earns it.  He also takes a leading role in showing his team how a culture of mutual respect promotes a fun working environment where people can open up to each other and bounce around ideas without the fear of offending someone.

Trait #3: No Idea Is Too Dumb and Conflict Is Healthy

A great manager never shuts down any idea because his mind is already made up.  Instead he believes in the power of collective wisdom, and gives all team members a fair chance to register their feedback.  Once all the feedback has been received and debated, a great manager tries to build consensus.  No team member is left feeling that their idea was disregarded because it was too dumb, or it wasn’t given a fair chance for any other reason.  Instead the manager makes sure that everyone understands the pros and cons of what is decided and why.  Rather than fearing conflict, he embraces healthy debates held in an environment of mutual respect.

This attitude goes a long way in gaining employee loyalty and ensures that everyone involved will put in their best effort in achieving success.  Moreover it promotes better decision-making where everyone understands that they have a fair chance to get their point heard and discussed, and that every decision is made in an unbiased way in the larger interest of the business.

Trait #4:  We All Have A Life Outside of Work

It’s really important for great managers to have a balance in their own lives, as well as to promote that balance within their teams.  With the right amount of planning and prioritization, there should be no reason for anyone to work long hours except occasionally.  Some project management and software development methodologies, for example, prohibit anyone from working more than 40 hours a week; exceptions are only allowed in the last week or so if required.

A manager who consistently puts in crazy amount of hours at work is usually viewed by his employees as incompetent.  If you work extended hours as a norm rather than an exception, you should try to bring a balance in your life.  If for some reason you must work crazy hours, make sure that you find a way to do it from home so that your employess do not know.

Trait #5: Do You Have Everything You Need?

Consider yourself being tasked with hanging a picture frame, but you are not provided with a hammer.  Now you might get creative and use some other tools to drive the nail into the wall, but it will most definitely take you longer and the results might be sub-par. 

All jobs require proper tools to do it right, and it can’t be more true for any kind of technology projects.  A great manager uses his skills and experience in finding ways to minimize workload, actively looks for opportunities to help, and ensures that his team gets all the required tools and resources to complete their work.  The results are usually no less than phenomenal.  But if you cut corners, you usually end up paying for it in the quality of results and the time it takes to perform the required workarounds.

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