Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (2023)

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (1)

You’ve put in the effort, you’ve honed your skills, and you’re finally a manager. While this is great news, being proficient at your job doesn’t necessarily equate to being a great manager. When you manage people, you are responsible for inspiring, motivating, and encouraging them. It’s no longer just about you and what you bring to the table — you need to get others to bring all they can to the table, too. Essentially, being a manager is about more than just hard skills. When you consider the qualities of a good manager, you’ll notice that they can’t all be proven and measured. Some of the qualities will turn you from a good manager to a great leader — these are known as “soft skills,” or “interpersonal skills.”

These skills are so valuable, in part, because they are harder to learn. They are developed over time as you observe, interact, and work with your teammates to help them become more productive. Soft skills are vital for effective leadership and performance management.

Research theorizes that of all the qualities of a good manager, soft skills are king. SHRM found that employers care more about soft skills such as active listening, communication, and flexibility than they do technical abilities.

Other sources state that hard skills are useless without soft skills. Soft skills enable us to build relationships, relate to people, and encourage others to succeed. Given the ongoing trend towards continuous performance management and regular coaching conversations, soft skills are becoming an essential part of a manager’s armory.

Below, we explore the qualities of a good manager — specifically, 13 soft skills that make managers great.

1. Transparency

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to keep things on a need-to-know basis with your employees. Times have changed.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (2)

Employees expect you to be transparent with them. They want to know what’s going on with their company and how they are doing. They want direct and honest feedback regularly, and a manager who won’t patronize them by sugarcoating the truth or hiding difficult realities from them.

Your employees are adults; you don’t need to protect them. They want the truth, and good managers know how to be transparent, authentic, and direct. Transparency and an ability to be honest and open are skills every manager and human resource executive needs to improve employee engagement.

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2. Excellent Communication

Managers need to be excellent communicators, which means maintaining regular contact with everyone on their team, providing frequent feedback, and delivering rewards and recognition for excellent performance.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (3)

Communication doesn’t only happen face-to-face — it happens via email, chat applications, body language, and much more. Managers need to communicate with their employees in ways that make them comfortable. It’s about getting to know your employees and understanding what they need to get them to perform well — it isn’t all about communicating in a way and on a schedule that suits you.

Good managers should let their employees know that they can discuss anything work-related on a regular cadence. Consider implementing an open-door policy if you haven’t already done so, as well as incorporating tools and technology that can offer real-time feedback. Managers should also clarify that their employees are free to communicate openly and honestly — employees shouldn’t feel their jobs are at risk whenever they want to air a grievance or ask for help.

3. Listening Skills

When we hear the phrase, “good communicator,” we generally think about speaking or writing rather than listening. But when discussing the qualities of a good manager, listening is just as important. Employees want to know that their opinions and insights are being heard.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (4)

Take the time to focus on your employees and what they are saying. Ask for their insights if they don’t readily offer them. When you get valuable feedback, make a conscious effort to take action based on it. This will show your employees that when they speak up, they can make a difference in their working environment.

4. Appreciating and Encouraging Teamwork

Companies that encourage teamwork enjoy improved efficiency, work outcomes, and individual development. Managers should support collaboration at every opportunity and mitigate toxic behavior and unhealthy competition.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (5)

Workplace processes can be adjusted to complement this approach. For example, some companies still operate on a “stacked ranking” system, as popularized by General Electric decades ago. This system ranks employees, and the lowest-performing employees are shown the door. Employee rankings, in general, have been shown to be demotivating to employees. Furthermore, ranking employees against each other creates toxic relationships and reduces the likelihood that employees will help one another when given the opportunity. Companies implementing this system should consider removing it.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (6)

5. Consistency and Reliability

Employees need to know that their leader is stable, secure, and reliable. They will come to you for clarification regarding organizational objectives, views on their work, and advice. And more importantly, employees should feel comfortable approaching you when they are struggling and need help. Employees need to know that their manager is a level-headed person who won’t fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, they won’t feel able to open up to you and their trust in management will weaken. This brings us to our next point:

6. Trustworthiness

Good managers are trustworthy, and they respect confidentiality. Employees need to have faith in their leaders and know that their managers have their employees’ best interests at heart. If your employees feel like you don’t support them, it’ll lead to a toxic work environment, reduced collaboration, and unhealthy competition in your workplace. Employees also need to be assured that management is telling them the truth. Your trustworthiness is built on respecting the privacy of your employees and offering honest advice based on what aligns best with your company’s goals.

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7. The Drive to Set Goals

The new trend in goal setting is empowering employees to determine their own goals. Doing so gives employees more ownership over their goals, which results in more work being done (and to a better standard).

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (7)

While employees should be placed in the driver’s seat, managers still play an important role in goal setting. Good managers need to be able to understand how to form motivational and realistic goals, then guide the process to align with organizational objectives. These goals also need to be challenging, so leveraging this soft skill is a delicate balance managers must maintain to keep employees engaged and motivated.

8. Making Decisions (and Accepting Responsibility)

New managers sometimes struggle to make decisions — especially important ones. Some suffer from a concept known as “analysis paralysis” (over-thinking a decision) or “bikeshedding” (focusing on insignificant details). Other managers obsess over possible negative outcomes, no matter how unlikely, and some might rush into a decision despite lacking the right information.

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Managers need to make decisions for the benefit of their team and company, taking a structured, logical approach to decision-making while keeping a cool head.

Managers also need to be able to make difficult decisions with regards to performance issues. Employees need to believe you’re on their side, but as a manager, you also need to put your foot down. If an employee is exhibiting behavioral or performance issues, managers need to have the confidence to step in and risk being seen as “the bad guy”.

If there is a problem, it needs to be addressed. It’s entirely possible to resolve issues amicably and productively, but managers shouldn’t shy away from confrontation when it’s warranted.

9. Empathy and Sensitivity

Emotional intelligence, which encompasses sensitivity and empathy, is a soft skill all modern managers need to have.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (9)

Emotional intelligence can make all the difference between an engaged employee and one who is burned out, frustrated, and unmotivated. Managers need to pick up on signs that an employee is pushing themselves too far, which can cause burnout, anxiety, depression, and disengagement. More often than not, good managers will pick up on signs of these conditions in advance, before the employee approaches them to discuss the situation.

Sensitivity is certainly needed when it comes to issues like anxiety. Managers need to be able to put the right provisions in place. This could include putting flexible working measures in place, being understanding about mental health breaks, and being mindful of anxiety during the goal setting process. Taking measures like this shows employees that they are not alone — and that the company is able and willing to help them.

(Video) Qualities of a Good Manager

10. Rewarding and Recognizing Employees

Employee recognition isn’t just a good idea in terms of employee morale; it is also a significant driver of employee engagement. A good manager understands the value of rewarding and recognizing employees.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (10)

Employees don’t just work for a paycheck. It takes much more than that to keep employees aligned with your company objectives and going that extra mile. Employees need to know that their work — and more importantly, their efforts — are acknowledged and appreciated. Leaders need to be perceptive in this area and take the time to reward and recognize employees where appropriate.

11. A Willingness to Change

The world of work is constantly shifting. The ways we operate in terms of technology, motivating employees, and reviewing performance are processes constantly subject to change. From year to year, your business will look different — and this is a good thing. It means you’re staying relevant and competitive, which means you’ll be around for years to come.

Managers stuck in their ways stagnate, while good managers are adaptable and flexible. They are ready for change and they plan for it, seeing disruption as an exciting challenge rather than a burden.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (11)

12. Conflict Resolution (Rather than Conflict Avoidance)

Workplace conflict is an ongoing issue in most organizations. This can occur for several reasons, with personality conflicts being a primary cause. Good managers need to not only be aware of conflict and able to pick up on signs of incivility and bullying but also stamp it out. Leaving such issues to fester is terrible for employee morale and performance. Confronting these situations head-on allows managers to arrive at a solution before it escalates and becomes unbearable.

13. Empowering and Motivating Your Team

Every generation and individual is motivated by different things. Good managers can relate to every member of their team, which will help them understand how to empower and motivate employees to get the best out of them and help them become the best they can be. This can come in the form of sales SPIFFs, competitions, or simply recognizing employees for their hard work. No matter what motivational technique you adopt, be sure to understand what motivates your team and give them incentives to work toward.

Qualities of a Good Manager: Looking Ahead

Now that you have a better understanding of the soft skills you should master in your management role, it’s time to take action. Take these 13 tips and integrate them into your workday. Keep notes on how impactful implementing these skills is, be sure to make adjustments as-needed, and check in with your team members often. You might be surprised about how quickly your team will change for the better.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (12)Stuart Hearn is CEO and Founder of Clear Review. Stuart works with companies to improve relationships and communication between managers and employees.

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FAQs

What are the 10 qualities of a good manager? ›

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Manager
  • Leadership Skills. In order to be an effective manager, you need to be able to lead your employees in an efficient manner. ...
  • Professional Experience. ...
  • Good Communication Skills. ...
  • Knowledge. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Time Management Skills. ...
  • Delegation. ...
  • Confidence.

Why are soft skills important as a manager? ›

When managing a group of people, soft skills are even more important because you're responsible for leading, motivating, and encouraging your team. In fact, managers with great leadership soft skills can boost their team's productivity by up to 30%.

What is a soft skill example? ›

Soft skills, also called people skills, are the mix of social and interpersonal skills, character traits, and professional attitudes that all jobs require. Teamwork, patience, time management, communication, are just a few examples.

What makes a good general manager? ›

A good general manager recognizes what team members are good at – and lets them design and do it. Let them shine as they play their part in implementing the overall strategy. You need to lead by example – through your commitment to the vision and your willingness to apply your part in the strategy.

Who is a good manager example? ›

Good managers aren't afraid to stand up to their directors and defend the team's ideas and efforts. However, good managers won't always take their team's side. They're upfront and honest with their team when it comes to pushback from executives.

What is a successful manager? ›

Effective managers are always good delegators. They can distribute tasks to their team as well as ensuring that their own time is well used for management issues and important tasks. Employees that feel trusted are better placed to achieve their potential and are given an incentive to ensure that they perform well.

What are the qualities of a leader? ›

The Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader
  • Vision. ...
  • Inspiration. ...
  • Strategic & Critical Thinking. ...
  • Interpersonal Communication. ...
  • Authenticity & Self-Awareness. ...
  • Open-Mindedness & Creativity. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Responsibility & Dependability.

What are the top 3 characteristics of successful managers? ›

Remember: Employees don't leave their companies, they leave their managers.
  • So What Are the Characteristics of a Good Manager? ...
  • Good Manager Characteristic #1: Leadership. ...
  • Successful Manager Characteristic #2: Expertise From Experience. ...
  • Great Manager Characteristic #3: Reliability.
19 Dec 2019

What is your strength as a manager? ›

Leadership Strengths

Able to understand the needs and emotions of others. Excellent self-management skills. Top-notch communication skills (including listening). Able to motivate and inspire others to do their best work.

What is the most important soft skill? ›

The most important soft skills which employers value are: emotional intelligence, communication, problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership and interpersonal skills.

How do managers develop soft skills? ›

Find opportunities to practice your skills. Your soft skills can only be improved with intentional practice. As a leader, look for opportunities to engage with employees, participate in professional development programs, and collect feedback from company executives and leaders.

What are hard skills for managers? ›

Management hard skills include:
  • Business development.
  • Logistics.
  • Hiring.
  • Budgeting.
  • Human resources knowledge.
  • Finance.
  • Accounting.
  • Office management.

What are the 7 essential soft skills? ›

7 essential soft skills in demand
  • Teamwork. With effective teamwork, teams are more productive, deadlines are met, relationships with your team members are stronger and knowledge is shared. ...
  • Problem solving. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Interpersonal.

Is leadership a soft skill? ›

Like teamwork, strong leadership involves combining lots of soft skills – cultivating and maintaining relationships, inspiring, motivating, instilling discipline… the list is endless.

How can I improve my management skills? ›

How to Improve Your Management Skills
  1. Strengthen Your Decision-Making. Sound decision-making is a crucial skill for managers. ...
  2. Cultivate Self-Awareness. ...
  3. Build Trust. ...
  4. Be a Better Communicator. ...
  5. Establish Regular Check-ins. ...
  6. Carve Out Time for Reflection. ...
  7. Complete Management Training.
9 Jan 2020

What is the function of manager? ›

At the most fundamental level, management is a discipline that consists of a set of five general functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling. These five functions are part of a body of practices and theories on how to be a successful manager.

What are the 6 responsibilities of the general manager? ›

And they do that by focusing on the six key tasks that constitute the foundations of every general manager's job: shaping the work environment, setting strategy, allocating resources, developing managers, building the organization, and overseeing operations.

What managers should start doing? ›

Here are seven things you can start doing today to improve as a manager.
  • Get to know your employees.
  • Communication is key.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence.
  • Lead by example.
  • Build an inclusive and positive work environment.
  • Be a leader as well as a manager.
  • Don't stop learning.
12 Sept 2022

Why are good management skills important? ›

Good management skills are vital for any organization to succeed and achieve its goals and objectives. A manager who fosters good management skills is able to propel the company's mission and vision or business goals forward with fewer hurdles and objections from internal and external sources.

What are the 4 tasks of management? ›

They were initially identified as five functions by Henri Fayol in the early 1900s. Over the years, Fayol's functions were combined and reduced to the following four main functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

What are the good personal qualities? ›

Examples of personal positive qualities: kind, gentle, strong, resilient, caring, assertive, hard-working, reliable, honest, practical, responsible, loyal, mature, creative, consistent, appreciative, capable, quick, sensitive, perceptive, patient, thoughtful, fit, trustworthy, shows initiative, motivated, versatile, ...

What is a good leadership style? ›

1. Authoritative Leadership. The authoritative leader knows the mission, is confident in working toward it, and empowers team members to take charge just as she is. The authoritative leader uses vision to drive strategy and encourages team members to use their strengths and emerge as leaders themselves.

What makes a good leader in the workplace? ›

A good leader engages in open communication, motivates their team members, leads by example, listens to feedback, and is open to new ideas in an ever-changing workplace. Anyone can sit in a corner office and boss people around, but there's more to effective leadership than that.

What are hard and soft skills in management? ›

What is the difference between hard skills and soft skills? Hard skills refer to the job-related knowledge and abilities that employees need to perform their job duties effectively. Soft skills, on the other hand, are the personal qualities that help employees really thrive in the workplace.

What are hard skills for managers? ›

Management hard skills include:
  • Business development.
  • Logistics.
  • Hiring.
  • Budgeting.
  • Human resources knowledge.
  • Finance.
  • Accounting.
  • Office management.

What are the soft skills that in your opinion a manager must have in 2022 this question is required? ›

Business communication is key for any manager or supervisor. From hosting meetings to building solid relationships with clients, being an excellent communicator is a must. But a big part of communication is also body language and active listening.

Is leadership a hard or soft skill? ›

Soft skills are those skills that come naturally and uniquely to everyone. Soft skills include leadership, effective communication, teamwork, time management, motivation and adaptability. On the other hand, hard skills are those that are gained through hands-on experience, training, or education.

What are the 7 essential soft skills? ›

7 essential soft skills in demand
  • Teamwork. With effective teamwork, teams are more productive, deadlines are met, relationships with your team members are stronger and knowledge is shared. ...
  • Problem solving. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Interpersonal.

What is soft management? ›

There is a continuum in management between “hard” and “soft.” The “hard” is the management that makes plans, sets up structures, and monitors performance. The “soft” is the people-friendly management based on emotions.

What are the 3 main managerial skills? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process: Technical skills. Conceptual skills. Human or interpersonal management skills.

What is your manager's greatest strength? ›

Strengths of management you might recognize and take advantage of include:
  • Reliability. Managers make sure their teams complete tasks and meet deadlines. ...
  • Organization. Managers are aware of every detail of a project or process. ...
  • Motivational. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Commitment to excellence. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Optimism.

How can I improve my management skills? ›

How to Improve Your Management Skills
  1. Strengthen Your Decision-Making. Sound decision-making is a crucial skill for managers. ...
  2. Cultivate Self-Awareness. ...
  3. Build Trust. ...
  4. Be a Better Communicator. ...
  5. Establish Regular Check-ins. ...
  6. Carve Out Time for Reflection. ...
  7. Complete Management Training.
9 Jan 2020

What is the most important soft skill? ›

The most important soft skills which employers value are: emotional intelligence, communication, problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership and interpersonal skills.

What are important soft skills for the workplace? ›

Companies have identified the following competencies as key to the success of young workers in the 21st century workplace.
  • Networking. ...
  • Enthusiasm. ...
  • Professionalism. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking. ...
  • Resources.

What are workplace soft skills? ›

Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence quotients that enable employees to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well and achieve their goals ...

What is the most important skill of a good leader? ›

The ten most important leadership qualities
  1. Communication. The ability to communicate is deemed an important leadership quality by many. ...
  2. Set a good example. ...
  3. Readiness to take on and give up responsibility. ...
  4. Motivation. ...
  5. Recognise and foster potential. ...
  6. Tolerate mistakes. ...
  7. Flexibility. ...
  8. Set goals and expectations.

What makes a good leader? ›

Good leaders are uplifting. They praise employees for a job well done, taking time to coach and train if there are lapses in performance. In good times and bad, good leaders bring out the best in their employees by encouraging them to be their very best.

What are my soft skills? ›

Soft skills include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, problem-solving, leadership, and empathy, among others. 1 They are among the top skills employers seek in the candidates they hire because soft skills are important for just about every job.

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