What Makes a Good Manager?

Make no mistake about it: effective management is a challenge. There are many managers, but there are few good managers. I believe the foundation of becoming a good manager is, first of all, understanding what makes a good manager.

In my communication coaching work, I often help managers identify and develop key management skills. In my experience, most managers only have a vague and inaccurate idea of what makes a good manager and in what direction to take their growth.

I’ll often hear statements from managers such as: “I need to improve my communication skills”. Well, there are a lot of communication skills. Which ones specifically? This is the kind of question you can answer much better by knowing yourself and comprehending what makes a good manager.

The 6 Qualities of a Good Manager

I have pinpointed six skills that I consider essential for any person who manages people and projects. Interestingly enough, five of them are people skills. Here are the six essential skills, listed and explained:

1.  Clear Communication

As a manager, it’s crucial to aid make the flow of information clear and effective. This can be done by having a clear-cut style of communication, by using accurate words to express facts and ideas, and also assisting the people you work with to do the same.

If as a manager, you say to a member of your team “I want that sales report soon” when what you want to say is “I want that sales report tomorrow by 12PM”, you’re in trouble. A clear communication style defines good management at its roots.

2. Assertive Communication

This is one of my favorite communication skills, and for good reason: I see it as the fundamental communication skill for both managers and employees.

Assertive communication is the ability to express your thoughts, ideas, wants and emotions in a straightforward, non-hesitant way, while also being tactful and respectful of the other person.

Communicating assertively often starts with mastering the previous skill, but it goes way beyond this. It means creating a win-win blend in the communication with a wide range of individuals, which is very powerful and, unfortunately, very rare.

3. Creating a Connection

Business may ultimately be about results, but it is still an exchange between individuals and it has a very human component. Thus, an important part of what makes a good manager is their ability to connect with others, to build rapport and trust.

Good managers know how to be authentic, open and friendly with other people, especially their subordinates. They demonstrate interest in others and they can make interpersonal interactions informal and relaxed. Thus, others find it highly enjoyable to work with them or for them.

4. Integrity

This is a part of building a connection and trust that’s so important I felt the need to describe it separately. Integrity is the alignment between thoughts, words and actions. A manager with a lot of integrity is the one who says what they think and does what they say they’ll do.

As a result, the subordinated employees know they can count on their manager and it’s easy for them to trust their manager. Team transparency, constructive attitudes and performance naturally arise from there. And if you’re wondering why such conditions are so rare in many organizations, it is because high integrity is also rare.

5. Motivational Skills

No, I’m not talking about doing Tony Robbins style speeches in front of the team, although they may have their place and their worth. I’m talking about the more subtle managerial ability to understand people’s motivations and properly respond to them.

A manager with this quality is able to match the motivations and strengths with the tasks and compensations for each one of their employees. Considering the uniqueness of each employee and the structural complexity an organization can have, this is quite the skill to master.

6. Decision Making Skills

I see a big part of the manager’s role as putting together a puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle are people, tasks, goals and data. Assembling them means creating strategies, distributing tasks, supervising their execution and providing feedback.

All of these managerial activities involve a lot of decision making, and it is first-rate decision making skills that lead to the best decisions. A good manager needs to think rationally, analyze variables effectively and strategize with skill. Otherwise, when the puzzle is finished, there will still be unused pieces.

Taking into account all the qualities described above, I’m sure you realize that what makes a good manager is serious stuff. Good management is no child’s play. For this reason more than anything else, I think it’s best for managers to never get too cocky about their skills and to continually invest in their self-growth.

PS: I now blog and share advice over here. Connect with me.

Image courtesy of MyTudut

What Do You Do For a Living? The Better Way to Answer

What do you do for a living?” – I ask him eager to do some chill networking. As I say this, my mind is automatically thinking: “Here comes another crappy answer I’ll have to work with”.

You might say that’s pessimistic of me; I say it’s more of an educated guess. It’s not that they’re not a lot of people out there with interesting jobs they’re passionate about. It’s just that they haven’t learned or haven’t considered the people skill of talking about them in a powerful way.

You see, answering “What do you do for a living?” in a stylish way is a great method to get the other person interested in the conversation, in your person, and to brand yourself. As a communication coach, there are a number of things I find important in answering this question.

Use a Suggestive Title for What You Do

It’s not important to use the exact job title in your job description in a conversation, even if it’s a business conversation. I sometimes meet a person who according to the JD is an ‘Executive Assistant’, but their job is much more of an HR job. ‘HR Assistant’ works a lot better as a title for them.

The point is to use a job title that realistically reflects the nature of the things you do in your job or the type of impact you have.

There is one answer to “What do you do for a living” that I find particularly bad: “I’m a consultant”. That doesn’t tell me shit about your job! They’re a zillion consultants out there.

Be Memorable

Some titles, they may be suggestive for what you do, but they simply aren’t remarkable in any way. Of course, there are plenty of ways to be memorable; you don’t need to desperately seek being memorable through your job title, but it is certainly a big bonus, especially in jobs where personal branding matters the most.

This is why I encourage you to use a memorable title for your job. Alain Cardon could have called himself a ‘Life Coach’, but he calls himself a ‘Breakthrough Catalyst’. Mars Dorian could have called himself a ‘Blogger’ but he calls himself a ‘Digital Crusader’. These are the kind of titles that stand out and they stick.

Follow-Up with an Exciting Explanation

After you’ve said your job title to answer the question, do not stop there. A title may be cool, suggestive and sexy, but it’s still only a title.

You want to do is continue with a short and powerful description of your job. Again, it’s important to remain clear and memorable. Some things to consider adding to this description are:

  • What you do exactly. Ex: “I speak on the area of Customer Service at conferences all over the world”.
  • What practical benefit you create: Ex: “I help organizations improve they way they interact with their customers and increase customer loyalty”.
  • Why what you do is important for you. Ex: “I believe that good results start with good customer service”.

But Eduard, What If I Have a Job I Hate and I Don’t Want to Talk About?

For this not so uncommon scenario, the first significant thing I can tell you is that you’d better at least have an aim for a different career and know what that career is.

Based on this, when you answer the question you can name your current job and then quickly move on to talking about the job you’re aiming for.

You may say something like: “I now work as a Sales Agent in an FMCG company, but I’m training to become a Career Coach. I have a passion for helping people find their way”.

The more you master your people skills and the better you present yourself, the more you “attract” all sorts of remarkable people and breathtaking career opportunities. And it often all starts with answering in style one simple question.

Image courtesy of Lucid Dreams