What are the characteristics of a good manager? By Carolien Toor Introduction Over the years I have worked in many various businesses; large as well as small, from stressful to peaceful environments and during good times as well as bad times. What I learned, through my experience from the various firms I worked for was the role the manager had in the workplace and how it affected me as an employee. When set this task I started to reflect how my past managers acted and how they got me motivated.

Some managers succeeded and stayed focused even under difficult circumstances, while others made the workplace a difficult and confusing environment to work in. Why did some manager succeed far better than others when it came to motivation, organising and being a good manager even under bad times? What characteristics had the successful managers, which the others ones lacked? This is what I found when determining what are the characteristics of a good manager. Characteristics develops from the company’s context

What makes an effective and good manager? According to Cheryl L. Harris, “understanding the context of the organization is extremely vital to determining the characteristics of a successful manager”1 (pg 1) and that should correspond to what kind of characteristics a manager ought to have to organize and develop goals and strategies for the company. I agree that Harris have a point that before choosing a manager we must consider the appearance of the company and aspects of management styles.

Imagine if a manager, taking over Steve Jobs role as CEO of Apple, would introduce strict management style, new black suit dress code to the company. He’s characteristics would possible not fit to Apple’s ‘laid back’ culture. Also mentioned by Buckingham and Coffman2 “an employee’s perception of the physical environment is colored by his relationship with his manager and it is the manager’s task to build the company culture around the blueprint” (pg 4). This conclusion was drawn when investigating, in a large survey, mployee’s satisfaction, productivity and profitability at work in reflection to their manager. Managers, who communicated with the employees in crystal clear language and gave recognition for their work, were managers who had abilities to retain talented employees and built a strong workplace. Kathryn Vercillo3 lists self-motivation number one of the most vital characteristics, as a manager needs to understand the basic goals of the business and develop own strategies to achieve these goals.

I consider that managers who can recognise their own strengths and weaknesses and progress and develop these as well as ideas and strategies are managers who are very credible to develop colleagues and expand the business, since they see every opportunity to grow and learn. Crises- when strong characteristics appears and managers gets put to the test “In a crisis it’s far easier for the company to emerge intact if the CEO makes sure that all the employees know there is a crisis, what the management is doing about it, and what everyone must do to help. – Louis V. Gerstner former CEO of IBM about clear and honest communication. (Who says elephants can’t dance, 2002, pg 285) There is a saying that when a man faces a crisis his true personality emerges. The impact of stress and uncertainty can make us act and think different than we normally do. Should not then the most significant features of what makes a good manager be most obvious and have the most importance on how to cope and handle a crisis?

In the book Who says elephants can’t dance4 written by Louis V. Gerstner (2002), former CEO of the global IT service and product company IBM, tells us the story how he manage to save IBM from closure and make one of the most remarkable turn-around in business history. In 1993 IBM was a technical product company, selling computers but lost their relationship with customer, since the market kept changing and the company did not react.

So when there is a crisis, it’s the manager’s job to inform the employees that there is a crisis and communicate how to end it with new strategies, new company model and culture. Gerstner described having that key characteristics such as flexible, excellent customers service and relations, outstanding leadership and communication skills and understanding in the company’s culture are vital qualities to move the company quick and fast in comparison to competitors, to motivate employees and create a strong relationship between customers and shareholders.

Not only did Gerstner emphasized that the culture plays a necessary part to analyze how things get done in the company, but having the ability to see what was wrong with the culture and manage to adapt a new management style and culture in the company since 1970. As a successful manager, Gerstner managed turn IBM around (from having losses over $8. 1 billion 1993, till a profit of $ 7. 7 billion in 2003) thanks for outstanding leadership skills and being passionate about winning and push the colleagues not only to win but encouraging change. And I can only agree with Gerstner: “we love to work for winners and be a part of winning” (pg 238).

Conclusion Looking back at the managers I have come across in my past jobs, the characteristics that good managers had that was highly appreciated by colleagues was having a manager who could guide, motivate, communicate, competitive, self-motivated and understanding the organisational context. Louis V Gerstner had some of the world’s most intelligent staff, knowledgably in all areas of their subject but without knowing the direction and vision of the company; the employees had no sense of motivation or vision on how to carry out their jobs.

I believe one of the key ability of a good manager is being a team player and when a company faces hard times in the business one must work as a team, speaking the same language and being visible to your employees. As a conclusion of what characteristics makes a good manager I believe the workplace decides what characteristics a manager needs to have, and customers and the marketplace should decide what decisions a manger should take and how to develop its business.

Bibliography Internet sources 1Cheryl L. Harris, Characteristics Of Effective Managers- Managerial Characteristics http://www. yramidodi. com/papers/managers. pdf 2010-10-23 2Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First, Break All The Rules. What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster, May 1999) http://www. itcoaches. org/pdf/First%20Break%20All%20The%20Rules. pdf 2010-10-22 3Kathryn Vercillo, 10 Good Traits And Characteristics Of A Successful Manager http://www. hubpages. com/hub/10-Traits-of-a-Successful-Manager 2010-11-03 Books 4“Who says elephants can’t dance” Louis V Gerstner, HarperCollins Publisher, 2002

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