How To Be a Good Manager Vs. Great Manager

Key takeaways

  • A manager has five basic tasks when it comes to leading a team.
  • Great managers engage teams, give and receive feedback, and tailor their management style to each team member.
  • Every successful manager should live by this mantra: Always strive for improvement.
  • See more stories on Matter's blog.

What do managers do?

Managers shape the culture of their organizations and team. According to the Wall Street Journal, a manager has five basic tasks when it comes to leading a team:

  1. Sets objectives. Managers set goals for the teams, decide what work needs to be done, and creates a road map to reach those goals.
  2. Organizes. Managers divide the work into doable chunks activities and picks our team members whose strengths align with the project.
  3. Motivates and communicates. Managers build successful teams through decisions on pay, placement, promotion, and through communications with the team.
  4. Measures. Managers set north stars and SMART goals so that they can be analyzed and interpreted.
  5. Develops and rallies people. Manager are especially accountable for helping team members develop their skills through feedback.

What makes a great and good manager?

There's a distinction between a good manager and great manager, but it's rarely defined. In fact, many managers can be found in the gray, average area. So, what separates the good from the great when it comes to team management?

Empowerment vs. working

Good managers perpetuate working culture while great managers strive to keep teams engaged. Many old school values behind management rely on the notion of completing projects on time and with little to no roadblocks. Times have changed. Especially in a pandemic, it may be difficult to meet deliverables. A great manager knows that reaching that finish line means helping team members feel empowered in their work. Once they feel engaged, the urge to complete a task will come organically.

Throwing feedback vs. catching feedback

Good managers are give feedback and hardly take feedback. While great managers, not only accept and give feedback but encourage team members to promote a culture of feedback among their cohorts. As a manager, your title doesn't allow you to be out of reach from feedback. In fact, great managers are excited to hear new ways to improve and eager to promote peer feedback among team members.  

Collaborate vs. tolerate

Good managers tolerate peers with different or even clashing personalities. Great managers learn how to tailor their management styles to best accommodate their teams. The fact of the matter is that you won't get along with everyone, and that's A-OK. But as a manager, it's your job to meet your team members half way so they feel supported and empowered to do their jobs. Essentially, not throwing the towel when it comes to developing their growth mindset.

Traits of a quality manager

On the surface, the responsibilities of a people manager may seem to be all about you. But in reality, being a successful manager isn’t at all about you, your performance, or your projects — it’s about your team. When you leverage your skills and abilities when it comes to being an effective manager, your team will thrive.

  • Interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Coaching skills
  • Delegation skills
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Emotional intelligence (aka empathy)
  • Positivity
  • Active listening skills

Food for thought

Successful, empowering, and effective managers strive for a workplace and team culture that uplifts and inspires their team members to reach for the stars. Good manager on the other hand, don't. If you're stepping into a manager position, remember it all boils down to a simple mantra: Always strive for improvement.

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