Leader of the Pack

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author and not LibLime or its affiliates.

We’ve all had a manager who is either excellent and leaves a lasting impression or is horrible and also leaves a lasting impression of a different sort. I’ve been fortunate to have good managers in most of my positions. What makes a manager successful is also what makes their team successful. I spoke with a manager at a local technology company to get her perspective of what makes a manager great. She stated, “A good manager listens to their team members, acts with compassion and empathy, and involves the team in decision-making and process improvements when possible. They work to provide their team members with the training and knowledge to succeed at their jobs”. According to an article on indeed.com, there are multiple characteristics that a good manager needs to have.

Communication skills are at the top of the list. Being able to communicate well on all mediums is a skill that requires practice. Learning how to use tone, especially conveying tone in text, can be very challenging. Communication skills span a massive range of types of communication, from listening to writing and presenting. Being in a management position requires excellent communication abilities. An article by positivepsychology.com discusses the various facets of communication in detail. It also provides a free downloadable worksheet. There are many resources online and elsewhere to learn more about communicating effectively.

Work ethic is essential in any job but especially for managers. The employees respond accordingly if the leader isn’t ready to do quality work. It makes you appear for the job even when you don’t want to. Peers and employees respect a solid work ethic.

Goal-oriented individuals usually inspire a following by others pursuing the same goal. When a leader is confident and steadfast, this will result in employees also feeling assured. Confidence is contagious, especially when it comes to manager-employee relationships.

Industry knowledge though helpful isn’t necessary as long as the manager is a quick study and willing to learn. If they have industry experience, it will help them, as throwing so much information at them won’t be necessary. One manager I know was steeped in the industry for over 15 years before becoming a manager. Her employees were thrilled to find out she would be their leader, knowing her industry experience would mean she’d always be able to help them. Without this knowledge, she’d have much catching up to do.

Positive and inspirational are ideal for both the yoga teacher and the manager. Positivity and inspiring employees aren’t easy, particularly when difficult things dampen spirits. When managers worldwide had to face the reality of their teams suddenly working remotely, they tried to soothe their fears and the vast uncertainties.

Conflict resolution methods are used every day by managers. Usually, these methods are learned in some sort of managerial training. Considering the array of personality types in each company, it takes skill to work effectively with each one. When problems arise, and they will, knowing how to resolve them quickly is ideal. Resolving an issue between employees or between manager and employee can be tricky, but finding one that allows everyone to feel valued and heard is essential.

Role models are essential for every stage of life. In the workplace, a good manager becomes an example to employees of a professional and compassionate person. This will inspire some employees. Being a role model for every employee isn’t required, but the manager must comport themselves in such a way that the employee can look to them as a role model.

Honesty and transparency are the parents of trust. If employees know they can trust their manager, they will be more comfortable with them. Managers who lose the confidence of their employees by behaving in ruthless or callous manners will have difficulty regaining that trust.

Empathetic and sincere leadership are not always natural characteristics for people to have. Managers always try to show this to their employees, especially when dealing with something difficult. My manager was very kind when my dad passed in 2018. He made sure I received the support and empathy I desperately needed. When employees deal with family matters, it does impact their ability to focus at work, and an empathetic manager can make all the difference.

Being a manager is hard work, often unappreciated, and usually stressful. Keeping the employees happy, productive, and inspired is a never-ending job. Those who are successful have employees who speak highly of and respect them.

By Gretchen Hendrick Gardella, MLIS

Gretchen Hendrick Gardella is a Librarian with administrative, research, and vast technical skills. Ms. Gardella brings over 16 years of experience working in academic and public libraries to the discussion.