Five Habits of Great Managers
There are good managers—and there are great managers. Of course, it’s the great ones who manage the most successful projects, lead their teams to new heights, and inspire their people to become the best they can be. If you want to maximize your management potential and become a truly outstanding leader, cultivating the following five habits of great managers can help:
1. Manage yourself. Before you can effectively lead others, you first need to learn how to effectively manage yourself. This involves understanding your motivations and recognizing any patterns in your actions, responses, or decision-making processes. Then you should apply that self-knowledge to achieve your objectives. As Gary Bradt points out in his Forbes article “Leading Others Starts With Managing Yourself,” you must learn how to quickly and objectively assess the outcome of potential actions and select the one that’s likely to yield the most positive outcome. This requires a significant amount of self-awareness, as well as a commitment to doing what’s needed for your team for your team and/or company.
2. Understand your team members’ professional perspectives. Each team is made up of professionals with different responsibilities, skills, concerns, motivations, and professional objectives. By understanding what’s important to each individual team member, you can enhance your ability to provide them with the support, guidance, and inspiration they need to overcome challenges, do their jobs well, and advance professionally.
3. Listen to your people. Pay attention to what they’re saying—and what they’re not saying. For example, your researcher comes to you asking for an extension on a project and lists a ream of resources she hasn’t yet had time to review. If you listen carefully, you might realize that she’s not really asking for more time; she’s asking for guidance about how to handle the large volume of work. It’s up to you to determine whether the best way to support her is to put together a timeline with milestones, assign another team member to assist her, or give her an extra week to complete the work on her own.
4. Prioritize—and complete your priorities. Make a list of the top three things you want to accomplish each day, and make sure to complete them. This will enable you to meet all your commitments and prevent you from getting distracted by less important tasks that you can either delay or delegate.
5. Set time aside for yourself. Managers have many responsibilities and often have to juggle multiple tasks at once—and that’s just in their professional lives! That’s why you should always set time aside for yourself so you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Consider building short wellness breaks into your day, for example by going for a brisk walk at lunch time or taking a yoga class after work. If you have a family, it can be helpful to establish “family time” each day during which you don’t answer the phone, check your emails or messages, or even talk about work.
Truly great managers aren’t only assets to their companies and the teams they lead; they’re also their own greatest advocates. By making these habits your own, you can become a memorable manager who not only understands the finer points of leading others, but also appreciates the value of self-management in order to achieve success.