What makes a good manager?

Emily O'Brien
February 24, 2023
What makes a good manager?

It’s an excellent question, if we don’t mind saying so ourselves. After all, we’ve all had managers, good ones and bad ones. But what makes the good ones stand out? What qualities do they have that encourages trust, belief and inspiration from those around them? So whether you have a manager or you are a manager, take a look at what we believe are the ingredients for a brilliant leader!

Been there, done that

First up, a good manager has experience. They haven’t just been air-dropped into a working situation where they are out of their comfort zone. They’ve done their time, learnt from the best, experienced the same things as their team, and have the battle scars to prove it. No one respects a manager who is there by title alone.

Putting you first

How many of you have had managers in the past who think it’s all about them? Quite a few, we imagine. Good leaders never act on their own ego. They make it their mission to be there for their team, in the background, empowering and supporting them. They make sure you’re heard, and go out of their way to acknowledge success. And that’s in good times and bad times. This quote puts it really well: ‘Great leaders give credit when things go right, and take the blame when things go wrong.’

Guiding, not doing

It’s not a leader’s role to take over and do your job for you. They’re there to guide you - and then get out of your way! It sounds simple, but all the best leaders can let go and delegate many responsibilities. That way, the team grows from their own experience. That’s not to say leaders shouldn’t get their hands dirty from time to time. It’s just knowing when those times are. It all results in a more collaborative working environment.

Getting to know you

No two employees are the same. So it’s a manager’s duty to get to know you individually. Your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals, your quirks, your unique ways of working. By doing this, they can get a handle of what motivates and drives you.

A positive environment is everything

You do your best work when you’re happy at work, right? And that means the office environment needs to be positive and fun. It’s a leader’s job to create an atmosphere that is supportive, inspirational and inclusive. Work should be a safe space where a manager gives you the confidence to try, perhaps fail, learn and try again. Managers can lead by example by praising effort, rather than picking up on mistakes or shortcomings. 

It's good to talk (and listen)

Communication is everything. Whether it’s creating goals for the team, conveying expectations, delegating tasks, managing conflict… All the very best managers know how to listen well and how to communicate with authority, transparency and empathy.

Who better to have the final word than Eleanor Roosevelt? She was an American political figure, activist, pacifist and first lady to her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She said: ‘Great leaders inspire people to have confidence in themselves.’