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


  1. Great post Eduard. When I first became a manager, my boss told me a great piece of advice – Great managers help their employees do their jobs better.

    That one piece of advice has really helped me become a better manager. If you focus on helping people do their jobs better, you will always make the right decisions.

  2. Hello Eduard,

    I love this post, it really does encapsulate well the qualities of a good manager.

    As a manager (and a slight self confessed control freak!!) I constantly struggle to enable my staff do do their best, while giving them a lot of freedom.

    There is a balance between support, delegation, authority and control and finding that balance is difficult…but key.

    I would also add teamwork – I like to encourage all staff to become involved in, or at least understand, all roles, in order to provide the best support.

    Lastly, it is imperative to ask staff for their honest feedback (and listen to this impartially). I have a great team member who is very blunt with me about what I have done well and what he thinks I could improve. I really trust his opinion and it generates an environment of openess.

    • Hey Kate,

      I didn’t know you were a control freak :). I think that goes away as you start to accept others as flawed and stop demanding perfect results right off the bat.

  3. Very thorough explanation of what good managerial skills are all about. In the midst of all these, especially motivation, there needs to be empathy. If you can understand the values and viewpoints of who you are managing, you will have a much better strategy for mobilizing workers.

    Great tips as always Eduard.

  4. Catherine Jules says:

    An effective manager should be able to lead the employees they manage and must be able to communicate well with them. They know how to organize the flow of the company’s system very well and they are able to identify and solve problems quickly, whether it’s a personal or business issues. They can think of creative solutions to problems, then execute them. A good manager should be a good leader as well.

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