What makes a great manager?

Meredith Belbin’s view:

“A manager is someone who has an overview of the work that needs to be undertaken and can delegate it to others in an appropriate way. Although it can be argued that management can be about looking after process, a true manager has to oversee others, deploy them in the most useful way and encourage personal development.”

We [Belbin] conducted a survey asking people what they think makes a great manager. The results were interesting, but perhaps not surprising.

One thing that was clear is that there is no single combination of Team Roles that makes a great manager.  This goes to show that one can be effective in a variety of styles, as long as one understands their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace...

Great managers

Looking in more detail, good communication appears as the principal asset of the most effective managers. Analysis of the figures shows that good managers are seen as encouraging of others, broad in outlook and caring but also challenging. They also have higher than average scores in being creative, innovative and persuasive.

Less effective managers

When asked about less effective managers, the message was loud and clear. People do not appreciate managers who simply direct and bark orders based on their previous knowledge. Nor do they appreciate managers who lack humility and have a narrow outlook. Less effective managers also appeared as inflexible, not interested in others and manipulative.

In conclusion

The overall results suggest that a facilitative manager is much preferred to a hard-line, micro-manager. The results suggest that the pursuit of high standards is perfectly possible and indeed desirable, provided these goals are pursued in a way that is acceptable to others.

Although it is an advantage to be a natural communicator, communication alone is not enough. Managers may need to make tough and sometimes unwelcome decisions but being caring is a necessary trait for managers to win acceptance. Meredith comments that:

"A general who does not care about his troops will not be able to win their support through difficult times."

And finally, Meredith’s tips for managers – be self-aware, take an interest in others, adapt to the specific demands of your situation and make the most of the human resources available.

Next steps

Take a look at out Help for Managers course and find out how Belbin can help you be a more effective manager.

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