Traits of a Successful Manager

Successful Manager

It’s a tricky for a small business owner to hire a successful manager, to hand over and trust certain tasks to someone else. In doing so, it’s important, even in bigger corporations, to look for those with certain traits and talents.

We’ve all had an experience with a bad manager: whether it’s someone who is controlling, one who takes more than their fair share of the credit, or who cares more about their own ultimate success than the success of the team. Whether you’re a big company in search of new talent, or a small business owner taking the exciting step of bringing in someone new to help you oversee the big picture, hiring someone for a management position can be challenging and even a little scary. So what should you look for, and how will you know whether you’re talking to a leader or a micromanager? Here’s what you need to know:

Recognize different management styles:

While bad managers tend to be bad in similar ways, successful managers are often good in different ways, and for different reasons. Even if you think you’re looking for someone who’s extroverted and inspirational, don’t dismiss a quiet, reflective introvert or a methodical, ultra-organized type right off the bat. Look for somebody who has principles and high standards for their work and behavior, instead of focusing too much on their style.

Ask for stories:

Questions like “what’s your greatest weakness” encourage candidates to be less than honest to avoid looking terrible in front of the person who’s doing the hiring. Get better information by asking interviewees to share a story about a time they had to break some difficult news to somebody, or a time they had to deal with an interpersonal conflict. These stories will help you to see how the candidate thinks, what her priorities are, and how she might grapple with a real-life scenario, that’s not so black and white.

What qualities should you look for in a successful manager?:

  • Humility: Does the candidate recognize others’ contributions to his or her success, or take all the credit for him/herself? Are they willing to say “I don’t know,” or do they pretend to have all the answers?
  • Sacrifice: Is the candidate willing to be flexible and give of their time or resources, even when it’s not easy or convenient?
  • Self-reflection: When something goes wrong, a strong leader looks to themselves first. Do they admit where they were at fault, and can they see where they could have done things differently before moving to criticize or correct others?
  • Detachment: A leader should be caring, but not so emotionally involved that they can’t make effective decisions.
  • Trust: A good manager knows how to delegate, and how to leave room for others to either make mistakes, or rise to the occasion.
  • Honesty: Can they be honest, even when it’s hard or unflattering to themselves?
  • Humor: Look for someone who is serious about the work, but not overly serious about themselves.

Successful mangers are made, not born:

Working with others is tough, even for somebody who has a knack for it. If you find a good external candidate or decide to promote somebody from within your company, don’t expect them to have it all down right away. Train them well, allow them to make mistakes, and stick with them if they’re growing and making progress.

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