14 Signs of a Great Manager

by Somya Kouma

Managers have a lasting effect on teams they lead. The right manager perfectly balances their own talents with the talents of the people they manage.

But how do you find a good manager? Fortunately, we know how to spot them! In the past 30-plus years, we have assessed over 330,000 managers giving us insight to what makes successful managers successful and bad managers bad.

Here’s what our science and research say are the 14 top qualities of great managers:

1. Great managers know their “why”
They are purposeful and look for meaning in their job. They understand why they do what they do and continue and look for like-minded people to work with who have a strong sense of ownership for their work.

2. They know your why, too
They want to know people on their team beyond the obvious scope of work. Relationships are very important to these individuals and they are always deepening their understanding of others.

3. They just won’t let go
They bring a certain can-do attitude to the table. Determined, they are tenacious in their pursuit and have a strong proven track-record of accomplishments because they thrive on generating results.

4. Hate to lose/love to win
Being the best is the only acceptable outcome for these managers, and they constantly compare their performance to others. When they fall behind, they double their efforts. Goals and deadlines energize them.

5. They have their ducks in a row
They are adept at getting results through teams. Aware of everyone’s capabilities, they put the right people in the right jobs and set others up for success. They create successful individuals and consequently success for the organization.

6. “Let’s keep an open mind here”
It is enjoyable for them to discover new solutions to old problems. They’re all about rework, refining, adapting their knowledge and skills to generate new possibilities of doing things. They are not big fans of the status quo.

7. Their blood type is “Be Positive”
They bring that “upbeat feeling” and their optimism is contagious. They act as catalysts for making things happen, even when juggling a complex environment. They contribute to making the workplace a stimulating one.

8. They grow things (check out their office plants)
You will see them proactively seeking opportunities to mentor others. In a way, promoting success for others is a personal success for them. Always approachable, you will see they will naturally dedicate time to teach others.

9. “What’s in it for my people?”
Highly-team oriented, they are considerate and people always come first for them. They naturally establish trust with others and people feel genuinely cared for in their presence. “We” and “our” are their favorite words.

10. (Insert your favorite song about self-empowerment)
These managers mean what they say and say what they mean. Conflicts do not make them uncomfortable and they’re willing to take an unpopular stance. Risks are their friends. You will always know what they think.

11. “It’s go time!”
Independent, they drive performance by planning and always know when to push the “go” button. Like a curious toddler, they’re always asking questions—and as a result, they are never taken by surprise.

12. There is clarity in chaos
They have a solid overview of the needs of their team, department and the organization. Observant, they have a unique way out of complex situations. They value quality over quantity.

13. “Talk numbers to me.”
Their financial sense is always turned on and revenue might be one of their favorite words. They have an eye for detail and naturally keep track of the numbers to manage profit loss and savings.

14. “Give me the deets.”
Information-seeking, they want to know more and more about more and more. They also use this information effectively and work well with people who like to figure things out and have the spirit of continuous improvement.

Finding that right balance:

Observe for these 14 natural talents knowing that no one person can demonstrate all. It’s about finding the right mix for your culture, the job role and your growth strategy.
Our new Operational Manager assessment uses science to identify these talents and predict how a manager relates to the people around them and their work under any circumstances. A partnership with Talent Plus means ease of mind and trust in our validated science.

Somya Kouma, M.S.
Leadership Consultant