Traits Of Great Managers – Filling The Roster With Successful Team Players.

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Traits Of Great Managers - Filling The Roster With Successful Team Players.



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What makes a great manager?  What do you want to achieve in your business that you think a great manager can help you with?

These 2 questions and more eventually raise up in the minds of business owners endeavoring to build their businesses and grow revenues.  Given that we can only do so much with our own 2 hands, finding people with the right ethical, professional and emotional character sets is hard to find.  Mix in the criteria of applicable skill-sets, and the pool from which to draw prime candidates shrinks even further.

There was a drive over the last decade to “flatten” corporations; the mindset was that people felt alienated by being pat of an organizational hierarchy, and that if only the hierarchical template was gone, freedom, license to create would result in over-performance, corporate growth and greater long-term sustainability.

David A . Garvin studied Google employees and found that the benefits of department managers statistically proved increased performance among it’s staff, based on quantifiable metrics.[1]

So what is it that great managers bring that can enhance the performance of the business and its’ people and help the business owner achieve much desired success?  Garvin highlights 4 areas that contributed to the success of managers:


  1. Does not micromanage

Micromanagers are difficult to work for because they now have to use up creative energy to “manage” the manager.  Managers need to give staff flexibility and space, employing a “there is more than one way to achieve our goal” attitude.


The greatest tragedy about micromanaging is that, even if the micromanager gets his/her way, the performance of the business-or department managed- is capped at the level of the micromanager.  Who knows if this is lower than what could be cooperatively achieved in all staff were empowered to flex their individual talents and brew their skill sets into something that enhanced performance further.  Staff under micromanagers go into survival mode rather than performance mode.

High performing managers, however, bring out high performance in their staff by being flexible, being willing to listen, and harnessing the power of their staff to maximize performance. They’re not concerned with protecting their position on the corporate ladder, a stance which itself shows insecurity and a restraining attitude towards their own work.

High performers want to work for managers like this, and the manager develops a committed following.

What is interesting is that, when the manager is able to manage people that have similar traits of respect, professionalism, ethics and hard work, s/he spends very little time on performance-eroding activities such as discipline, correction, and babysitting.  Rather, time is spent on performance-enhancing activities such as one-on-one meetings as well as encouraging, collaboration and championing sessions and communications.  The focus becomes spending time as a group, developing trust among team members and fostering a cohesive environment that naturally fosters a performance-driven mindset within a positive, community-based atmosphere.  It’s this environment that the successful manager is responsible for and on which the success of the team and members within it is predicated.


  1. Balances giving freedom with being available for advice

Successful managers give space to their staff to work independently, but are there for provide support when they encounter roadblocks or need advice.  This trait concentrates on the manager’s relationship with individual members.  They are good coaches, empower members and listen and communicate carefully to ensure that staff are able to maximize their performance and experience on the job.  Managers can subtly find themselves as life coaches as well as career coaches if they do their jobs right.  It’s not uncommon for staff to stay in touch with successful managers once they leave their position because the manager played such an integral role in their lives while working for him/her.



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  1. Makes it clear that s/he trusts the staff

Successful managers cultivate a culture of accountability while not losing sight of the fact that staff can enjoy work.  In fact , they carefully manage to ensure that work does not devolve into a continuous chore, which would result in mediocre performance.  Trust is fostered via focus meetings,  group activities within and outside the office to establish a mutually trusting attitude toward each other.

A natural benefit of showing trust in staff is that staff reciprocate by moving quickly .


  1. Gives a clear vision for the team

Without a clear vision, all of the points preceding will be declared null and void.  Successful managers respect the skill sets of their team members by providing a clear plan and environment for success, realizing that these skill sets are valuable and will move on if not satisfactorily challenged.  Not only is clear vision provided for the team and it’s role within the company; successful managers provide vision for the career’s of their team members, providing career counseling and development insights.

Successful managers are out there, and they share in common an ability to maximize the performance of their team members. Their positive attitudes are contagious, providing the impetus for a strong, performance-driven working environment within an emotionally satisfying work environment.

The above points may seem to be elusive, given the work conditions some may find themselves in. However, what is certain is that, as a business owner, the retention of successful managers as defined here are necessary to evolve businesses into competitive corporations within their respective industries.


Nicholas Kilpatrick is a partner at the accounting firm of Burgess Kilpatrick.  He leads the firm’s consulting and strategy practice and works with companies to enhance their Analytics, Forecasting , and Data Optimization functions.  The practice’s focus includes quantitative forecasting, corporate and unit strategy and planning.  Please visit our website at or on Facebook at Burgess Kilpatrick for more information on our firm.






[1] Garvin, David A., “How Google Sold Its’ Engineers on Management’, Harvard   Business Review, December 2013.

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