When you envision your perfect boss, you probably hope that they're sweet as pie, know how to kick ass at their job, and bring puppies into work every day (just me?). Even though those seem like very logical options, you do want a manager to have certain personality traits to develop and inspire their staff. A supervisor doesn't just sit at their desk all day, completing their own assignments. They have the responsibility to bring out the best in their staff and provide guidance when their employees need it most. It's about being a team player and making sure they lead by example.
"Strong managers lead by example — they exhibit positive traits that set expectations for their employees. You’re only as strong as the weakest member of your team. One way to motivate them is to gain their trust and build [a] positive report. If it’s 11 p.m. and the entire time is working on a tight deadline for you, they’re going to do it more happily if they feel loyal to you and that you believe in their work, in them, and that you’re part of the team, too, not just a talking head," says career expert for Monster Vicki Salemi in an interview with Bustle over email.
But how does a manager develop these type of skills? "Leaders can learn traits a variety of ways, but it all goes back to good old-fashioned soft skills," continued Salemi. "When I was a recruiter, for example, when there were candidates with practically identical resumes, the one with strong soft skills always landed the job. Simply put, they were likable. You can develop these skills by volunteering to lead a group within your organization, getting feedback, outlining a plan with a mentor or selecting a role model to see how they run meetings and interact with teammates — do they have open office hours during which direct reports can stop by their office to chat about anything? Take notes from the best and then make it your own," continued Salemi.
It's never a bad idea to grow and learn, so if you're already a supervisor, hope to aspire to be one in the near future, or just work under one, check out these nine personality traits you should have to be considered a great manager.
1. They're Team-Oriented
A good manager wants to set a great example to their team by not being afraid to get their hands dirty and knowing that it's not all about them but their employees as well. "Make it clear that you’re part of the team, and that you all strive for the best to make each other look good. This, of course, stems from the top. Set a good example — get to work on time, if not early; abide by the company’s dress code and demonstrate good work ethic — you can’t expect your team to respect you and work hard for you if you’re slacking off," says Salemi.
2. They Know How To Communicate & Listen Well
If there's one personality trait that every manager should strive to have is to be a great communicator. If they don't know how to encourage their staff, delegate assignments, or critique performances, then they might have a hard time connecting with their employees in the long run. "Excellent managers must be good listeners. They should be good communicators overall, but a key element of that is listening skills," says Salemi.
3. They Have An Open Mind
While it's a good thing to have a clear vision of what one might want, a great manager should be willing to accept new ideas. For instance, an employee can feel frustrated when a supervisor constantly shuts down their ideas because it doesn't fit in their "vision." "Be open to a conversation and [consider] others’ viewpoints. Listen to all sides, in particular, if two or more employees are quarreling," says Salemi.
4. They're Transparent
A great manager understands how important it is to keep their staff in the loop. They're not afraid to deliver bad news, but when they do, they encourage their staff to ask questions and give feedback. "[You must have] strong communication skills and [know how to be] transparent — mean what you say and say what you mean. Walk the walk, talk the talk and listen. This doesn’t mean only with your ears but also with your body language and eye contact [when you speak]," says Salemi.
5. They Encourage Dialogue
"This is especially important with technology and remote workers on the rise — try to email and [instant message] less and talk more in person or on the phone," says Salemi. While you don't want your boss to unload their life's problems on you, you do want them to encourage dialogue — whether it's negative or positive — so you can feel safe to not only express your ideas but your feelings, too.
6. They Show Compassion
When your boss requires you to work 24/7, they're asking you to head straight into Burnout city. An ideal manager should show compassion or set their staff up for success so their employees won't feel ignored and underappreciated. "All good managers must have compassion. This means they are able to put other people first instead of making decisions solely based on the bottom line or the 'numbers.' The best managers recognize when people on their team are struggling or have something to say and provide an opportunity for growth. People follow others who embody the same set of values [as] they do. And everyone feels more at ease working for a manager who is sensitive to their situation," says women's leadership coach Amanda Sowadski in an interview with Bustle over email.
7. They're Adaptable
It's completely normal for changes to occur when a company is growing — heck you hope for it! But if your boss doesn't know how to adapt, then they could prevent you from growing as well. "Being a manager requires working with a lot of different personalities. A good manager will be able to flex their style to adapt to their employee's needs. I recommend managers have each employee create a 'Guide to Working With Me' that lists all of their preferences. This could include things like their hot buttons, how to motivate them, and how they like to receive praise. The manager can also complete the guide and then facilitate a discussion among the team about each person's style. From there it's up to the manager to take into account each person's style in order to help them achieve the best results," says Sowadski.
8. They're Self-Aware
While it would be amazing to work under a kick-ass manager, you have to understand that they're human, too. But what sets apart a good manager from a great manager? That they're willing to see their own faults and grow from them. "If you are not self-aware you miss the chance to improve. A good manager should always be looking out for their own growth edges and then be vulnerable enough to ask their team, leader, or coworkers to help them alter their behavior so they can really excel. When a manager is aware of their own opportunities to grow, they are able to inspire others to grow as well," says Sowadski.
9. They're Dependable
Employees need to feel like they can depend on their boss, especially when it comes to keeping their word. But it's kind of hard to expect that when you're constantly running around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to find your boss. "Managers need to be viewed as likable, respectable, and trustworthy by their team. Strong leaders show their direct reports that they’re willing to go to bat for them," says Salemi.
While managers do need to complete their own tasks, it's also their responsibility to develop and manage their staff. But whether you're trying to become a better manager yourself or currently work under a supervisor, these are some of the best personality traits any manager should have.