15 Attributes of Great Managers

Last spring my son was working as an intern at our company.  One day he came into my office and asked, “What is the one book on leadership I should read?” My mind raced.  There are just so darn many.

Of course, I am a fan of Leading at A Higher Level, which outlines a lot of The Ken Blanchard Companies content. And then of course there is the brand new Servant Leadership in Action.  I love both of these books and recommend them highly.

My son also got me thinking about some of the attributes a great manager should either have or be working on.  Here is a list of 15 attributes that serves as a good starting point—these suggestions are taken from notes our Blanchard coaches have made about what they focus on during coaching calls.

Attributes/Practices of Great Managers

  1. Be interested and curious
  2. Do no harm (or don’t be a big jerk)
  3. Admit when you are wrong and apologize when appropriate
  4. Keep your eye on the ball – don’t waste time on what doesn’t matter
  5. Surround yourself with the best people you can
  6. Be a role model from the behaviors you are holding your people accountable for
  7. Have at least one bright person you trust who challenges you even if it is annoying
  8. Exercise iron clad personal discipline when it comes to self-care
  9. Practice self-control so that you can respond instead of react
  10. Do the hard things first
  11. Mean what you say, say what you mean
  12. Do what you say you are going to do
  13. Be crystal clear about your expectations
  14. Listen more than you talk
  15. Keep learning and growing

What am I missing?  Please do add your thoughts!

About the Author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

10 thoughts on “15 Attributes of Great Managers

    • I agree. And, I think these can be confusing for some. It was my thought that the combination of the other things would add up to the being human part.

      • I just came across this site when I was checking my name on line. When I was a supervisor I would visit my employees and their families if they where in the hospital. I have tied the work boots every morning of one of my employees with arthritis.
        Being a servant leader can be hard to learn. You have to live it. I have a great story to tell about servant leadership. Contact me please. I am the Airport coordinator at the Payson Airport. I was a Supervisor for Orange County Parks and a Plant Engineer for General Motors. See how I take being human home after work by looking up Dueker Ranch. I would love to co author a book on Servant Leadership. I developed a step by step plan that changed the culture at a General Motors facility with 1,400 employees. Any company can change their culture to one of servant leadership if they know how. It’s good to be human.

    • This, to me, is always undervalued. If that list of 15 are the commandments, then the Golden Rule is simply “Care” – if you do that, a lot of the other stuff tends to fall into place. If you don’t truly care about the individuals – guess what – management is not your gig 🙂

    • Ah – yes, say thank you. Show people that you appreciate them. I think the thing about staff;s hobbies would fall under be interested and curious.
      My favorite quote (that has kept me going all of these years) is Winston Churchill’s “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts.

  1. Demonstrate humility and vulnerability. A few of the attributes you mention could fall into these categories, but those two terms are what I encounter most when reading about or hearing from great leaders.

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