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The difference between a mediocre manager and an extraordinary one, are many. Depending on the specific managers in question, there are likely to be many differences in style and approach between any individual and the next. But which combination makes for the perfect manager?

Strive for personal fulfillment

The desire to become a better manager is the pinnacle of actually becoming one. A lackadaisical manager often has little tolerance for acknowledging how they can become better and it’s exactly this fact which prevents them from ever progressing.

If the key to becoming a better manager of people is the desire to want to become one, then in essence the ambition of striving to learn and implement techniques to improve as a manager, is essential.

Refusing to become nonchalant and believing firmly in ones quest to improve will ensure you find yourself traveling the journey towards becoming a successful people leader.

Strengthen emotional intelligence

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Each individual has an inherent level of emotional intelligence and some are unquestionably gifted to interpret and display it better than others. It’s been proven many times over that managers with  highly developed emotional intelligence have a much better ability to understand their staff. This tends to surface on both on a personal and professional level and goes a long way to catapulting their success as an effective leader of people.

Invest in making connections 

Adopting a personal approach to your interactions with others contributes to their feelings of respect and being valued. Managers who fail to invest team building relationships with their staff often leave their people feeling disconnected and under appreciated.

Consequently, learning about your staff on an individual basis helps build stronger connections and assists with the development of collaborative working relationships. It also contributes to strengthening the team as a whole because it affords you the ability to steer your ‘team’ ship towards a positive level of communication and exchange of information, thereby creating a more effective working environment.


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It’s almost impossible to improve if you’re not aware of areas that need improvement. How will you know that you’re not well understood, if no one tells you? A good manager of people welcomes feedback on their own performance. In addition, they create opportunities to become more aware of how their performance is perceived and the consequences it has on others.

Asking for formal or informal feedback from employees or receiving peer review feedback from colleagues are all great ways to increase your ability to introspect which in turn can assist in retaining your staff in the long term.

On the other hand, you may request feedback from your own manager or relevant partner at peer level within your business. Combining 360 degree feedback from people above you as well as those whom you manage will place you in the valuable position of building an accurate representation. This will ultimately assist you to identify your own areas for development in terms of how you manage people.

Ongoing education 

Just as many jobs require up-skilling and further education on a continuous basis, the successful leader is also willing to participate in ongoing education when it comes to management style and personal development.

He or she will seek out opportunities to learn new techniques for managing staff and search for ways to learn how to better manage people.

It’s easy to think that an employee requires no further help once they’ve departed from an organization. However, a good manager realizes both the needs of the former employee and the needs of managing the organization’s brand. That means learning about career transition support for employees that are laid off.

What works best for one manager and employee may not be the strategy that works best for the next. Particularly when faced with challenges of managing difficult staff, a strong people manager will likely seek out formal education to assist in strengthening their management skills and ability.

Developing patience 

As a manager, patience is one of the most critical skills you can learn. You may consider yourself a very patient person, until put to the test, and the workplace isn’t the best time to identify the fact that you may not be particularly patient.

A good manager doesn’t run on a short fuse, nor will staff be scared to approach him or her for fear of a blow-up. Developing your patience and being known for integrating patience into the every-day management of your team, is essential.

New staff need to witness that you have patience during their on boarding process and whilst they learn the ropes. Existing staff need to believe you have the patience to cope with challenging situations and that you won’t jump ship, or blow off steam immediately, when presented with difficult times.


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Another soft skill displayed by strong people leaders is that of fairness. It’s perfectly human to prefer certain people over others, and sometimes you’ll find your personality simply clicks with some in your team, and not others.

A good manager has the ability to stand above this and exert fairness in their authority. The manager able to do this will gain respect for being fair even if they get along with some staff better than others. Favoritism is not part of the job but leading a team to success, is.

Exude pride

Exuding enthusiasm for what one does is a sure fire way to attract others. People become excited when working with a manager who enjoys what they do. A manager who exudes genuine pride and enthusiasm for his or her work is inspiring, and people recognize when there is merely a facade of happiness.

A good people manager will dedicate time at work to improving the quality of their work as well as investing in their staff, and it’s this combination that becomes infectious to others.

Building a high performing team isn’t easy, and one of the best ways of doing so is to lead by example. Work towards the ultimate goal of inspiring each individual cog in the machine to work as effectively as possible.

People perform best when inspired and motivated to do so, so it’s critical to take pride in your work and exude the confidence that you know how to do it best.

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Posted by Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan is a Senior Consultant at Velvet Jobs, they provide outplacement services, a resume builder and job search facility for job seekers and employers across the globe. You can also find them on Twitter @velvetjobs. When he's not trying to help people on their career path or with HR issues you can find him curating his Spotify playlists at an alarming pace, usually with a coffee in hand.

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