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4 Apr 2014

Give this Boss a High Five: The 5 Traits of Perfect Managers

For decades, businesses have been trying to discover the formula for the 'perfect' manager.  There are tons of books, blog posts and editorial articles out there, and even training courses on how to be a better manager.  While I cannot claim to have unlocked the secret theory of management, discussions with bosses and managers since 1987 revealed the following 5 traits of a 'perfect' manager:
1. Know How to Be Tough
Many managers are tough on themselves, tough on their customers and sub-contractors and even tough on their families - but soft on their team members. The reasons could range from difficulty in hiring suitable people due to the tight labour market and the caps on employing foreigners in many industries to poor people management skills.  

As a result, managers are afraid of telling their staff what they expect from them, giving negative feedback when required or being tough on poor behaviour or performance. It is no surprise that their subordinates climb over the managers' heads. 
On the other hand, there are some managers that are too tough that they become abusive, aggressive and hated by people.  Such managers end up with zero staff and have to work till midnight.

The middle path is the right path: Tough on the Problem but Soft on the People.  This means that the manager must engage his team and love them. Yet when there is a problem he can be tough.  As a result, he is feared but highly respected by people

2.    Know When to CollaborateI've met many managers that are very confident, but being confident does not mean you don't work with others when needed.  Today's workplace is not for the lone rangers. Successful managers collaborate together and support one another.  A little bit of friendly competition is fine, but not office politics that make people unproductive. One easy way to tell if your manager is collaborative now is to see how willing he is to help other departments achieve their goals.

3. Know What Make People Tick
To understand people is to know why they behave in a certain way and know how to influence them to your thinking without forcing them. The 'perfect manager' understands human psychology and has high levels of emotional intelligence.  He knows how to motivate people to work towards shared goals.  

One way to tell if your manager understands human psychology is to ask him to organize training session to get all the staff to come back on Saturday (assuming Saturday is not a working day).

4. Know How to Sell
Selling is about persuading and influencing people and not just about selling products and services.  Negotiation itself is selling. If a manager cannot sell his ideas, how is he going to inspire his team and make people work hard?  Whenever we use force to get people to agree to us, people will use more force to defend their position.  Thus it's good that managers go for sales training to help them improve their managerial skills.

5. Know How to Find Solutions
The 'perfect' manager is resourceful.  He has the ability to research and come up with solutions that people do not think of.  Managers are supposed to be the experts and know how to answer tough questions, but if they don't do their homework they will look like idiots or a conmen.  

If you want fast and instant solutions, go to trainers and coaches who have seen more situations than you.  A manager cannot bluff his way through for in this internet age, people will soon know the truth and the manager will lose his credibility and integrity to lead his team.

In short, a Good Manager has the 5 traits of knowing how to be Tough, Collaborate, Make People Tick, Sell and Find Solutions.  Note that this article appeared in The Straits Times page C34 on 4 April 2014 Friday.  Andy Ng the author is the copyright owner of this article.  You can approach him at his site where he lists all the courses at here.  Related articles:
  1.  Making a Difference as a Manager in 6 Ways
  2. The Most Inspiring Words to Say that Make People Want to Die for You
  3. 6 Common Myths and Truths of Management
  4. Follow From the Front and Other Ways to Lead People
  5. How to Get People to Work Hard for You Without Money
  6. The HAPPY Way to Build Great Teams
  7. Make Sure you Train Your People with these 5 Things

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