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Look After My Business! 


So there I was having this chat with a friend of mine over the weekend. He is the group HR executive for a large IT company, and he drew me into conversation about a particular challenge that his company now faces – they have to cultivate effective future management. His question was simple – “How do we do this?”


As you can imagine this question did lead to some debate, but we eventually came to consensus on what makes a good manager. When I went home, I hit the books and the web to confirm or refute what we had agreed constitutes a good manager. Please allow me to share the results with you.


Firstly, a manager needs to understand what his or her job is. We asked this question of a group of managers at a client company the other day – what do you believe that the job of a manager is? Of course all the answers centered on making money. And they’re wrong! Making money is the responsibility of every person in the company, but the job of a manager is to make money by getting sustained high productivity out of his or her staff.


So that is the job definition of a manager – to get high productivity out of the people working for the company.


Secondly, if you had to do a survey of the commonalities between really great managers, you would discover that they all share the following qualities:


1. They have influence – in other words, they are able to get people to do the right things without necessarily giving direct orders or issuing control. People like to hang around these managers and they like to work for them. They try to emulate the qualities of the manager in their own way of dealing with people.


2. They are leaders – How do you know that you are a leader? I ask this question of many people and they come up with all kinds of answers. The acid test of your leadership ability is simple. Turn around and see who is following you voluntarily!


3. They have integrity – Good managers live a life that is beyond reproach. Their word is their bond, and people know that they are safe with this manager. Good managers don’t gossip and tear people down, and they put the needs of their staff before their own needs.


4. They are trustworthy – Good managers engender trust in themselves. They don’t break confidences and they don’t set people up for failure. Good managers use every technique in the book to help their staff succeed.


5. They are disciplined – Good managers are self disciplined and also impose discipline. The discipline that they impose is fair and is imposed equally on everyone. Good managers are very good at setting parameters and then enforcing those parameters fairly.


6. They are tenacious – Good managers don’t give up easily. They will try every avenue or strategy available to them, in order to get the result that is needed.


7. They are problem solvers – Good managers know how to cut through all the emotion and “fluff” surrounding a problem, and “cut to the chase”. They know how to move to a solution quickly and effectively.


8. They are proactive – Good managers are continually looking to tomorrow so that they can see what’s coming down the road, and create appropriate strategies to deal with those approaching issues. In other words, good managers are always ahead of the curve.


9. They use well defined productivity management processes – Good managers use proven techniques, systems and processes in order to get their staff to produce. They don’t wait for the company to implement these systems and processes, they go ahead anyway.


10. They are good communicators – Good managers take it upon themselves to ensure that they are understood. They make sure that they use language that everyone can understand, and they spend whatever time is necessary for the other person to understand the manager clearly and concisely.


11. They are passionate – about their lives and the business. Good managers are excited about where their life is going, and the role that the business plays in that. They love what they do and it shows.


12. They are compassionate – Good managers care for people. They do not see people as “assets and liabilities” to be pushed around as they please. They see people as human beings and treat them with care and dignity.


13. They are loyal – Good managers are loyal to their company and staff. They don’t speak negatively about the company or staff, and will stop other people from doing so. While recognizing that their employer and their staff are not perfect, they show unqualified loyalty.


14. They are competent – A good manager does not have to be an expert in the work that his or her department is producing, but the manager has to be competent. He or she has to know what is going on, but they don’t have to do the work!


So there we have 14 qualities of effective managers, and I am sure that there are more that we can add to this list. And we need to understand that qualities are not something that you learn on a training course. They are aspects of your life that have been quietly growing over years. In other words, by now you either have them or you don’t.


Now the point is, Mr. Managing Director and Mr. CEO, when you put people into management positions, are you putting them there because they exhibit these qualities or is it simply because they have been there the longest, they are the oldest or they are the best at their job? Or even worse, because they have an MBA! If people are being placed into management because of seniority or competence as the major criteria, is it any wonder that we don’t have a productive workforce. Without these non-negotiable qualities, a manager is forced to resort to participative management (and we have seen the results of that!) or big stick management. Neither of those have a positive influence on productivity in any way.


Managers that have been given their position with seniority or competence being the main criteria for the promotion have a direct negative influence on productivity and productivity speaks directly to your company’s profits.


Managers get things done. And they get things done through people. Without the qualities listed here, they haven’t got a chance.



This article is protected by copyright and may not be duplicated or republished in full or in part, without the express written permission of Mark Deavall.  Mark is contactable on or +27 82 465 5481.