the traits of a good manager?
it someone who is motivated by a sense of purpose? Is it someone who has
the tenacity to accomplish a goal against overwhelming odds? Is it someone
who knows how to inspire others to work as a team to achieve that goal?
Or is it someone who simply is organized
and disciplined, someone who knows how to balance a myriad of competing
demands without losing sight of the main objective? Is it someone who no
matter how distracted or preoccupied with private concerns can make you
feel as though your concern is the only one that matters?
A good manager is probably all of these
things. But in my opinion a good manager is, above all, a good
communicator. And good communicators know three things: They know their
purpose, their audience, and their material.
Good managers operate with a clear sense
of goals. They know what they want to accomplish, and they know how they
want to go about it. Their sense of purpose is always in the forefront of
their minds, and they can remind you (and themselves) of that purpose at a
Good managers know their audience. They
know what motivates their employees and what troubles them. They know when
to supervise closely and when to allow autonomy. They know when to speak
and when to listen.
Good managers know their business. They
understand the details of how things operate, from the mundane to the
complex. They can anticipate problems, and they can understand why
deadlines are sometimes missed or why things sometimes go wrong.
Beyond knowing their purpose, audience,
and material, good managers have good habits of communication. They
▪Know when to write and when not to
▪Look for opportunities to interact with
people in person, taking care not to become overly dependent on written or
▪Look for occasions to send "good news"
messages, especially notes and letters of appreciation.
▪Stress the positive over the negative.
▪Rarely write in anger.
▪Speak and write in a personal voice
▪Emphasize values, principles, reasons,
and feelings as well as facts, information, and decisions.
▪Seek to be "functional" communicators
(to use Donald Walkerís terminology in The Effective Administrator),
those who accept responsibility for conveying their message clearly,
rather than "formal" communicators who blame the audience if their message
is not received.
But if a good manager is a good
communicator, you might ask, what then is a great communicator? The
answer is disarmingly simple: A great communicator is someone who
tells good stories.
I can guess what youíre thinking. We all
know plenty of good storytellers, donít we?
You should have heard the story my boss
told about how our company had no intention of laying anyone off! You
should have heard the story she told me about how this special assignment
would advance my career! You should have heard the one about why he had to
support someone elseís proposal over mine!
But itís true. Great communicators know
how to combine the three elements of purpose, audience, and material into
a narrative, and narrative is the tie that binds us.
Great communicators can tell the story
of an organization and how the part you play Ė your role and your actions
Ė represents an integral part of that plot. They can tell the story that
links the contributions of past, present, and future workers. They can
tell the story of human endeavor in its broadest sense, an epic drama in
which all of us have the opportunity to conduct ourselves as heroes.