GUEST BLOG: What makes a great manager?

We often hear the question, what makes a great leader?, less often, what makes a great manager? Great leaders are important, they can have a very positive impact on the company they work for, cementing a vision and providing the inspiration to go out and conquer the organisational goals. We often forget that great managers are the ones who are busy getting things done, managers are responsible for planning who does the work when, for engaging with the team, influencing, motivating and monitoring performance. 

Managers often get a raw deal, failing to get the glory they perhaps deserve and let’s face it management is a tough job, responsible for rallying the troops to ensure that the goals are achieved in order to fulfil the vision.

In order to master this mammoth task, it’s not enough to be a good manager, you really need to focus on becoming a great one. Here are three things you should focus on to ensure you do the best job you can do. Communication, Motivation and Authenticity.

1. Communication

We all know how to communicate, but effective communication is very different. Effective communication involves ensuring clarity in all types of communication. Ensuring that employees are clear about their roles and responsibility and what their part is to ensure the organisational goals are reached. 

A great manager speaks clearly and succinctly. He/She doesn’t waste time by speaking eloquently and elaborately. She gets to the point quickly ensuring that what she has said has been understood. She never avoids conflict, as conflict is a healthy part of good team communications. It is important to deal with conflict or discontent head on to avoid the bad feeling that can come if the conflict festers.

As well as being a good verbal communicator she should also be a good listener. When asked most of us would say we are a good listener. But the reality is we are far too eager to get our voice heard, to say our piece, ensure our important contribution doesn’t go unheard. So few of us really listen.  Active listening means being alert when you are listening, it requires you to listen with your eyes as well as your ears. To see what is not being said which is sometimes as important as what is being said.  To listen when you feel like speaking is the skill of a great manager.

2. Motivation

To motivate is another great skill in the managers toolbox. They need to encourage their team to keep moving towards the goals. The role of the manager is to recognise each individual strengths and capitalise on those strengths. This is not an easy job and takes time but the sooner a manager understands their team and what makes them tick, the sooner she can make the most of them. According to Dan Pink author of Drive, the Extraordinary Truth about What Motivates People, People are motivated by Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. 

  • Autonomy; most people like to be self-directed, not be told what they need to do every day. When you give people more control over how and when they do their work the results are generally very positive.
  • Mastery;  People also have an urge to get better at things, the sense of challenge is inherent in all of us. We will work to self-improve. 
  • Purpose; We all yearn to have purpose in our lives, companies who link profit to purpose can help to maintain employee engagement.

If you can offer your team a way to feel these basic human needs you will tap into a source of motivation like no other. But what about the money? It has long been known that money is not a motivator but of course this applies only when a person’s basic needs are met. It’s important to pay people enough so that the money conversation is off the table, only then will you see the real motivators work.

3. Authenticity

One of the chief skills employees rate as being essential for good managers is that of trust. Being truthful and transparent with your employees will help to build a relationship of trust, when you are open and they see you for who you are you will foster more engagement and loyalty. Team members need to be held accountable and see that you also hold yourself accountable for what you do.

Many managers live by a philosophy of Do as I say not as I do, where authentic leaders walk their talk they don’t expect anyone to do what they are  not prepared to do. Be yourself, open up, be honest, fair and transparent and your team will love you for it.

Start by ensuring these three traits are present every day and you will be well on your way to becoming a great manager.

If you would like to create great managers in your company, speak to the team at EQuita who create customised management development programmes for great companies who want to educate, engage and retain their talent.


Margaret Considine is CEO of EQuita Consulting. 

‪EQuita Consulting are global experts in delivering Executive Education, Strategic Consulting and Workplace solutions. With specialist expertise in Commercial Negotiation, Mediation, Conflict & Dispute Resolution, Bullying & Harassment Investigations and Personal Productivity. ‬‬

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