If you want to be a successful manager, it's not going to happen by accident — you must work at it. Being promoted to a management role does not guarantee success. Successful managers are effective and productive. They can lead, motivate and inspire others to achieve their best.
To become a successful manager, you must adopt key habits that will allow you to accomplish your goals and bring out the best in others. You can start by adopting the 25 skills we've highlighted below:
25 habits that successful managers have:
1. They set SMART goals.
Success requires dedicated work. Successful managers write their goals and map out the key steps they must take to get closer to their goals every day.
2. They manage their time.
Time is precious and valuable. Successful managers manage their time effectively by cutting out activities that do not align with their goals.
3. They invest in others.
Successful managers continually invest in others. Investing in others includes encouraging, coaching, mentoring, and sponsoring future leaders.
4. They communicate effectively.
Successful managers are good communicators. Effective communication requires attentive listening and asking questions. Good communicators also respond to questions when asked and they share information that will benefit others.
5. They focus on the big picture.
Successful managers engage in strategic planning and effective implementation. To do so, they broaden their perspective to understand how all the pieces of a plan, project or goal it together.
6. They invest in their professional and personal development.
The best managers understand the importance of investing in their professional and personal development. They read books, attend seminars, and / or seek advanced degrees. Continuing education enhances their credentials and allows them to stay on top of trends that will impact their areas of expertise.
7. They take risks.
Taking risks builds confidence and sharpens one's ability to be decisive. Successful managers are willing to try new things and experiment with new ideas.
8. They have integrity.
Successful managers demonstrate consistency between their words and their actions. Their consistency inspires others to trust them and their ability to lead.
9. They are disciplined.
Self-discipline is an important leadership attribute. It requires engaging in consistent action even when you don't feel like it. Self-discipline fuels a successful manager's sense of determination and allows the manager to achieve goals.
10. They are strategic.
Strategic leadership requires thoughtful analysis, planning, and execution. Successful managers invest time to think through various scenarios and consider the consequences of potential actions.
11. They ask for feedback.
The founder of modern management, Peter Drucker, once wrote: "The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis." Successful managers continually seek feedback to improve their performance and enable continued success.
12. They seek advice.
Thriving managers seek advice to make effective decisions. Knowledgeable advice allows a leader to learn about blind spots. Receiving guidance enhances a manager's leadership style by offering a different point of view.
13. They promote collaboration.
Successful management requires engaging others and inspiring them toward shared goals. Sharing information and inviting others to participate in collaboration builds trust within a team and a common sense of purpose.
14. They are visible.
Successful managers are visible and create visibility opportunities for their teams. Visibility facilitates connection points with others, spurs interaction, and provides a platform to showcase accomplishments.
15. They are respectful of others.
Trust and respect are fundamental to effective leadership. No one likes to be disrespected or denigrated. Successful managers are courteous and considerate of others. Genuine regard for others engenders loyalty and fosters mutual respect.
16. They promote their team's accomplishments.
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Giving others credit and acknowledging their accomplishments are two ways that successful managers create high achieving teams. Promoting their team's accomplishments encourages momentum for further achievement.
17. They build a network.
Good working relationships are important for career and personal advancement. Successful managers work at strategically building networks that support their personal and professional goals. They create regular opportunities to establish genuine connections with people in and out of their professional community.
18. They position themselves for the future.
In an ever-changing workplace that is increasingly being impacted by technology and global markets, positioning oneself for the future is critical for career and team success. Successful managers stay on top of industry trends by reading periodicals, attending conferences, and networking. They also seek opportunities to share what they learn with team members and incorporate new methods into their work processes.
19. They navigate office politics.
Successful managers embrace office politics. They understand that office politics is a fact of life. But, they also understand that navigating office politics does not require that they violate their personal values. Rather, they respect their organization's culture, strategically build their network, and interact sincerely to influence others effectively.
20. They manage conflict.
Workplace conflict is inevitable. Rather than avoid conflict, successful managers seek to address difficult situations professionally and respectfully. They engage in difficult conversations, seek common ground, and preserve relationships.
21. They admit mistakes.
Making mistakes is part of life. Effective leadership calls for transparency and accountability. Successful managers, therefore, admit their mistakes, learn from them, and do better next time.
22. They are humble.
The best managers are humble. Many associate humility with weakness. But, in fact, humility is the ability to accurately assess one's own strengths and limitations. It takes sober judgment and confidence to self-assess. Genuine humility is an attractive quality and inspires an environment of honesty and trust.
23. They strive for work-life balance.
Maintaining a high-performance work culture requires work-life balance. The best managers work to ensure that their teams stay engaged by encouraging time off and leading by example. All leaders need time to recharge. Taking time off to rest, connect with loved ones, and pursue personal interests puts work into perspective and makes managers more relatable as people.
24. They support their teams.
Managers cannot succeed without the support of their teams. The best managers empower their teams by allowing them to take ownership for their work. Successful managers provide their teams with the encouragement, tools, and resources they need to get their jobs done.
25. They say, "Thank you."
In a performance driven workplace, expressing gratitude is often overlooked. Thanking others for their contributions let's them know they are appreciated and valued. Saying "thank you" takes a few seconds of time. But, the impact can last a lifetime.
How can I be a successful manager?
- Be intentional about how you want to lead.
- Make a plan and have regular check-ins with yourself, your manager and your direct reports; feedback is important.
- Learn more about different leadership styles and be open to different approaches.
- Cultivate patience.
- Develop self-awareness to better serve your team.
How can I be a better manager or leader?
No one is perfect, so you can't expect that you'll follow all the habits at all times, but holding yourself to that standard will place you light years ahead of your peers. Good leadership skills also take patience, wisdom and experience — three things that you'll gain the longer you're a leader.
How can I improve my management skills?
- Find a mentor with leadership skills you admire.
- Continue to refine your skills by practicing, reflecting on your progress, and asking for feedback/measuring your effectiveness.
- Take courses; you can find workshops and training online and in person.
- Hire a leadership coach.
Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA, develops webinars, seminars, and coaching programs to help women show up, speak up, and step up in their careers and personal lives. She is also the host of the Leadership Strategies for Women Podcast where she shares success tips to help women achieve more both personally and professionally. To learn more, go to www.EllieNieves.com.