What does it mean to be a good manager and team leader?

Paul Hawken, an American environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist, has made this definition of the skills and characteristics of a good manager: “Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”

Being a manager can be a challenging job which comes with a lot of responsibility. It is, however, a very rewarding role which is essential to the success of a company. This is true whether we are talking about a manager responsible for multiple team members in a large organisation, or manager in a micro business responsible for perhaps just one employee. The management position is important in office environments, in the health & social care sectors, busy restaurants, retail shops and just about any sector imaginable. It’s important to note that as many as 50% of employees who leave a workplace do so because they were unhappy with the management (according to a study conducted by Gallup). Any business that currently employs managers or is wanting to develop their workforce into management should ensure their managers’ skills are above the standards.

Here are 6 skills and characteristics of an good manager, with examples and statistics:

A busy, but tidy desk, presumably belonging to a manager. We will discuss more about needing to be organised

1. Good managers have excellent communication

Did you know that, according to a survey completed by Interact, 69% of managers are often uncomfortable communicating with employees? This is a baffling figure that has negative impact on the productivity of the workforce.

The skill to deliver clear messages is a substantial quality of a manager or a team leader in order to lead others effectively. Perhaps even more so since the difficult times of 2020, where much of our communication had to be done virtually. Good communication increases the productivity and morale of a team.

A team in an office. They don't seem happy. Is their manager displaying good skills and characteristics?

Tell your team why they’re doing what they’re doing

One of the ways to communicate well is to give context for every action required of employees, and why it is important. No employee should work without knowing the “why“ of what they’re doing. Having context will drive and motivate them to perform better at their task. Knowing the background of their task in depth may also help them perform more effectively. Furthermore, it is a good practice to repeat important points. When points get repeated, it helps employees to memorise the point and act on it. It is also important to ensure that communication between managers and employees is a ‘two way street.’ This will help the manager ensure that employees have a full grasp of the task. They can do so by asking employees specific questions relating to the task.

Two workers communicating, possibly exchanging feedback

To improve the skills and characteristics, a manager is to practice good methods of feedback

To ensure their team is performing to their best ability, a manager or leader must give clear and constructive feedback. Read more in our blogpost about feedback. Managers and leaders should let the team know what they did right and where there is space for improvement. 79% of employees who quit their jobs have indicated that the main reason they left was not being commended for their hard work, (according to global employee engagement platform, VantageCircle).

Improve communication in your workplace

Communication is also an important part of resolving conflict. Could your employees in a management or supervisor position benefit from our conflict resolution e-learning course?
Perhaps the most important communication skill is listening. Good listeners can effectively lead teams, resolve conflicts and empower employees. Employees who are listened to know their voices count and are encouraged to discuss any challenges. The listening skill is closely related to our next point:

A whiteboard which says 'STOP BULLYING, START EMPATHY'

2. Empathy is a characteristic of a good manager

The Oxford Dictionary definition of empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.“ It is essentially the ability to imagine oneself in the other’s shoes. It is being able to relate to them and consider their problems with more understanding, knowing how they would feel in their situation. A good managers focuses on being empathetic. When managers listen, it is important they do so with a sense of empathy. Otherwise, they are just registering employees’ feedback without being able to respond adequately and provide support to their team. Employees who are listened to and well-treated are more motivated, productive, and engaged with their work.

A study by Center for Creative Leadership has found that empathy in the workplace is closely related to positive work performance. The managers who were found to be the most empathetic were also rated most efficient by their own bosses.
A good leader should be able to relate to the team and be compassionate. They should demonstrate a genuine interest in their employees. This includes offering them support, as well as watch for signs of burn out and overwork. As many as 75% of employees struggle with feeling overwhelmed with workload, which is a very high figure. Employees need to be closely supported and managers should ensure that they are handling their workload without feeling stressed.

An organised desk. Organisational skills are a part of the skills and characteristics of being a good manager.

3. A part of the skills and characteristics of a good manager is to learn organisational skills

Every leader should aim to stay focused on different tasks, prioritse their workload and use their resources efficiently. They should work in a structure and ordered manner and manage their time well. This will a clear goal and mission for the team, without any distractions and obstacles pulling back the progress. Did you know that on average, according to DocuSign, organisations spend as much as 16 days per year just looking for paperwork? Knowing how to divide and organise your time is an intrinsic element to productivity. A clear schedule and time-tracking is a good practice to implement to make the most of our time, as well as staying focused on one task at a time.

A part of being an organised leader is being proficient and skilled in strategic planning – see the next point:

Colleagues strategically planning. Strategic planning is a part of the skills and characteristics of being a good manager.

4. Leaders need to practice strategic planning

The strategic planning process involves identifying the company’s strategic position and gathering information. An efficient manager should have a clear mission, vision, objectives and specific departmental and individual goals. This will allow them to complete projects and manage people successfully. They should come up with a plan that will be put into action. Managers and leaders can also complete a SCOT analysis to minimise risks, raise awareness on what needs to be approved.

Another important step is to make use of the organisations’ best resources and seize opportunities, and further use this analysis to stick to their priorities. The success of this process then needs to be closely monitored.

Training is normally required in this area to ensure that the individual is ready to consider all of these and more aspects of strategic planning, and develop the skills and knowledge to complete these effectively.
At Basegreen Academy, we offer Level 3 and Level 5 Diplomas in Management, as well as management qualifications specific to the social care sector. The training programmes cover these and more topics in depth and ensure the manager is well skilled and knowledgeable in their area.

A businessman shaking hands

5. Good leaders need to be accountable

Every manager should stand behind their decision and take ownership of their actions. This is true regardless the outcome. Any failure to achieve an expectation up to standard must be approached with transparency, and criticised constructively. They should never blame members of their team for something that is not their fault. Others will want to get behind an accountable manager, as they trust their decision-making. When leaders hold themselves accountable, they encourage this behaviour in employees as well. This creates a productive, motivated work-place. It especially works well with the other points mentioned in this article, such as empathy and strong communication skills.

In a research program by Effective Managers partnered with the University of Ottawa, a critical link was identified between accountability and effectiveness. Accountable managers were more effective in their work, and brought more success for their organisation. The relationship between accountability is as high as 67%.

Colleagues shaking hands in a workplace, practicing interpersonal skills

6. A part of the skills and characteristics of a good manager is to be more adaptable

Adaptable leaders and teams make a significant difference to the productivity, motivation and positivity of any workplace. Adaptability minimises the resistance to change. It firstly requires awareness of any changes in the workplace. Read our article about adjusting to change effectively.

It starts in the change of a negative thought process. One needs to open their mind to new processes, ideas and opportunities for improvement. They should make a conscious decision to take more risks. This skill also works closely with the accountability skill, because to take risks and learn, we need to hold ourselves accountable. This skill starts with the manager, that will then lead the remaining employees to follow.
The focus of an adaptable team is on solutions of any problems with positivity and a drive to learn new skills and gain new knowledge. This also contributes to individuals’ professional growth.

Colleagues having a discussion in a workplace

Motivation to learn will lead to looking for opportunities for development. This may include seeking skill gaps amongst employees, and finding ways to fill them. For example, managers might seek flexible learning opportunities (find out more by reading our article about flexible learning). Of course, they should also examine their own skills, and see whether there are any gaps in their knowledge, always striving to be the best manager they can be. Middle managers may want to progress onto a higher-level course if they haven’t already, such as the Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership.

At Basegreen Academy, we offer a variety of flexible courses (see: Top Reasons to Invest in Flexible and Online Learning), tailored to the specific needs, demands and schedule of organisations at their request across a variety of sectors. This includes business management. Our management courses are designed to develop an effective, motivated and skilled workforce. Have look through our website, or request a complimentary organisational needs analysis by contacting us.

Micromanagement should be avoided. Inspiring others is a part of skills and characteristics of being a good manager.

In summary, the skills and characteristics of a good manager are to lead, manage and inspire others

How many management styles are there?

There are many management styles, but all good managers have one trait in common. They discover the unique set of skills and skill gaps, talents and value of each employee they lead. They learn how to best use it in the business. They also develop their team to their best potential. Managers should know their employees well enough to know both their career goals but also their interests in their personal life, developing trust and close relationships while maintaining a position of leadership and authority.

Managers and leaders should avoid favouritism

According to a study by the Predictive Intex, 43% of employees don’t think their managers show favouritism. However, as many as 33.4% said they think their manager has their favourites. Favouritism is an unacceptable trait in leadership, and every manager must ensure they treat every member of staff equally, while adhering to their specific needs and requirements, as each employee is a different individual with different strengths and weaknesses. According to a Harvard Business Review Survey, 58% of employees trust strangers more than their boss – a sad figure, which we must work to change.

A businessman reaching out to shake hands. Trust is important in business.

Generate trust and don’t micromanage

Maintaining trust between managers and employees is substantial to employees feeling accepted and encouraged in the workplace. It empowers all members involved. It’s simple – trust and close relationships just make people happy. Happy employees also lead to higher retention.

Trust helps avoid micromanaging. Micromanaging is generally a negative leadership style, as it takes away individuals’ freedom, discourages them and can go as far as to make them feel incompetent. Nobody works to their best ability having their boss watching over every step they make. Creating trust and positive relationships will therefore help to encourage and motivate each member of the team to not work hard, but love what they do.

Every manager should lead by example and ensure they do as they would want others to do. This will create patterns and a productive, motivated culture in the workplace, as well as a friendly environment, displaying all the above mentioned skills and characteristics.

Managers can receive training to attain skills and characteristics of being a good manager

How to improve your management skills?

In the above text, we have mentioned some surprising, even shocking statistics regarding management skills and characteristics. They show that there is room for improvement in the development of managers across all sectors. It may have something to do with the fact that, as a study by CareerBuilder.com has found, 58% of managers said they didn’t receive any management training. They were chosen because they were proficient at their previous position. However, they need further development in management and leadership. What is the solution, and how to grow and and ensure proficiency in these skills in managers?

At Basegreen Academy, our management and leadership qualifications provide an opportunity for managers and aspiring managers to develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours to undertake their roles effectively. This is intrinsic for them to become better managers and get great management skills. They are suitable for learners working across all sectors. However, we also offer specific management qualifications for the health and social care sector. Many of our courses can be done online through our eLearning portfolio – and we have specific short eLearning courses available as well.

An organised desk

How ONA can help develop the skills and characteristics of a good manager

An ONA, or an Organisational Needs Analysis, is a complimentary consultation with our business development team. It can be requested by contacting us. We will discuss the specific requirements of your organisation, and implement an effective learning solution.

Discussing your training needs in detail will aid in finding the best solution for your organisation, as we will work in partnership with you to accommodate your demands and challenges.

We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Tel: 0114 212 5910
Email: hello@hellobasegreenacademy-co-uk

Article written by Judith Gallova