Skillset of Great Managers: Key Qualities for Success

by / ⠀Blog / June 14, 2024
Skillset of Great Managers: Key Qualities for Success

In this article, we will discuss the key qualities that make a great manager in the workplace. According to Julie Zhuo, a former VP at Facebook, great managers are not born but made. She shares three universal qualities that all great managers have and what they do to develop these qualities. See here for Julie’s perspective:

Building trust

Great managers build trust with their team members. Employees trust their boss. They share problems and challenges, give critical feedback without fear, and would happily work for them again. To build trust, good managers show vulnerability. They give specific recognition, advice, and feedback. They also prepare for one-on-one meetings with their team.

Showing vulnerability means not pretending to know everything. When a manager admits they are still working on something, it can make their team respect them more. Giving specific recognition and feedback involves pointing out the extra effort an employee put into a presentation or project, rather than saying “great job.” Preparing for one-on-one meetings means prioritizing the employees and coming up with relevant questions to help them decide on the next steps.

Giving great feedback

Great managers give feedback that inspires their team to change their behavior. They set clear expectations at the beginning, make their feedback as specific as possible to drive action, and collect 360-degree feedback for the greatest objectivity.

Setting clear expectations involves sharing ideal outcomes according to a timeline. For example, a manager might say, “In the first three months on the job, I expect you to own this spreadsheet and help me plan this offline event. In six months, hopefully, you’ll be running the weekly status meetings without me.” This clarity helps the employee know what they need to do and how their success will be measured.

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Make feedback specific. This means pointing out exactly what the employee did well or needs to improve. Don’t use ambiguous terms like “complicated.” For example, instead of saying “Your presentation was complicated,” a manager could say, “You lost the room when you shared seven different designs for the review. It would be great to let us vote on three options next time.”

Collecting 360-degree feedback means combining the manager’s observations with feedback from the employee’s colleagues. This makes the feedback feel more aimed and comprehensive, and less threatening to the employee’s fight-or-flight response.

Running amazing meetings

Great managers run meetings that have a clear outcome. There are only five reasons for a meeting. They are: to make a decision, to share information, to give feedback on a project or plan, to generate ideas, and to strengthen relationships.

When a decision needs to be made, the decision maker needs to be in the room, and the people affected by the decision need to feel that the process was fair. When information needs to be shared, only the least number of people necessary should be invited, and the speaker should keep the audience engaged and entertained.

Feedback needs to be given on a project or plan. The presentation should include changes since the last check-in, problems the reviewer can immediately give input on, and specific next steps. When ideas need to be generated, attendees should brainstorm before the meeting. During the meeting, they will discuss which ideas they can turn into action.

Finally, when we need to strengthen relationships, social events are as important as formal business meetings. The more colleagues learn about each other’s hobbies, life stories, and interests, the more they enjoy working together.

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Other qualities of great managers

Great managers must also have other qualities. These include building trust, giving great feedback, and running amazing meetings. They struggle with impostor syndrome but look up to role models to see how they deal with uncertainty and failure. They understand the importance of hiring well and know that a candidate with mixed reviews but vocal supporters usually outperform those with consistently average ratings.

Great managers also know that perfect execution is more important than perfect strategy. They move quickly to learn what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments on the go. They delegate effectively by reminding their team of the purpose, not the task. As Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up men to gather wood. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Finally, great managers walk the walk. They don’t say one thing and do another, as this is the quickest way for them to lose respect and authority.


In conclusion, this article provides valuable insights into what makes a great manager at work. By building trust, giving great feedback, running amazing meetings, and possessing other key qualities, managers can inspire and lead their teams to success. While no one is born a great manager, anyone can develop these skills with practice and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I build trust with my team as a manager?

Building trust involves showing vulnerability. It also involves giving specific recognition and feedback. And it involves preparing thoroughly for one-on-one meetings. You can do this by admitting where you are still learning. Also, by explicitly acknowledging team efforts. This will create an environment where open communication and mutual respect can thrive.

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2. What are some effective strategies for giving feedback that inspire change?

Effective feedback starts with setting clear expectations and being specific in your observations. It’s essential to provide actionable feedback, avoiding vague terms and instead focusing on concrete examples of what went well or where improvements can be made. Incorporating 360-degree feedback from colleagues adds objectivity and enhances the feedback process.

3. How can I ensure meetings are productive and valuable?

Great managers ensure meetings have clear outcomes. The outcomes can be for making decisions, sharing information, giving feedback, generating ideas, or building relationships. They rank having the right stakeholders present. They keep them engaged by focusing on relevant discussions and the next steps.

4. Besides the key qualities discussed, what other traits do great managers have?

Great managers often confront imposter syndrome by seeking inspiration from role models who handle uncertainty and failure effectively. They stress hiring well. They know that execution is often more critical than perfect strategy. Effective delegation, rooted in purpose rather than mere task assignment, is also a hallmark of their leadership style.

5. How can I maintain credibility as a manager?

Credibility is maintained by aligning actions with words consistently. Great managers lead by example and rank integrity in their interactions with team members. This approach not only strengthens trust but also solidifies their authority and respect within the team.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by freepik; Thank you!

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