Anybody can be a manager. Work hard, persevere and you’ll be rewarded. But once you’re there, it’s important you know how to do the job effectively to build a strong culture, and maximise productivity among your team.

And, as the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) report proved that effective leadership can increase productivity by 32%, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing the best you can as a manager.

At a glance, here are 8 great qualities that are typically found in an exceptional manager:

Without further ado, let’s dive into what these qualities mean and how you can go about achieving them.

8 qualities of a top-notch manager


If you’re to take away one thing from this article, make it this.

If you want your team to be successful, communication is key. Get this right and it means everyone is on the same page with expectations, goals and progress. Everyone knows where they stand and the team will run like clockwork - a sure recipe for success.

If your team is facing a communication blockage, you’ll soon know something’s wrong. Employees will feel disconnected from their role, as well as you as a manager and the company as a whole - a downward spiral to low morale and productivity. And you only have to look at the stats: a report found that 25% of employees who quit their jobs did so because they felt like they were left in the dark.

So, to avoid crisis here are some must-haves for a great communication:

  • Weekly team meetings to discuss successes, projects, challenges and any queries your staff might have.
  • Regular 1-2-1s with each employee.
  • Put some time aside to get to know your employees and for them to get to know you better. Perhaps organise a team night out or team-building day.
  • Arrange regular performance reviews and provide feedback your team with feedback.


Did you know we’ve learned 85% of what we know through listening?

Listening is one half of the communication process in the workplace. Without it, you’d be left with people talking over each other, chaotic meetings and zero progress. Sound ideal? We thought not.

Good listening skills are essential if you’re wanting to be a successful manager. After all, no employee likes a manager who is wrapped up in an email or flicking through paperwork instead of listening intently to what they have to say.

It starts with the basics. Make sure you devote your full attention to your employees and maintain eye contact. Ask lots of questions too – this will fully clarify their ideas and ensure you’re on the same page. A little can go a long way.

It’ll be worth your time – you’ll soon find that communication processes are streamlined and effective, trust and respect towards you increases and conflict among your team is a thing of the past. And these are just some of the benefits.

Be transparent

Its great to shout about successes and achievements and share them with your staff, but have you considered sharing the lows, too?

Being secretive only leaves employees wondering how much they know you as a leader, which we all know is a one-way ticket to distrust.

Don’t be afraid to share the more sensitive information. It sounds scary, but, for example, disclosing the company’s monthly or quarterly revenue can be extremely powerful. It’ll show your employees you trust and value them, whilst also acting as a great motivator when it comes to hitting targets and working as a team. They’ll feel they’re truly valued and a part of something great.


One of the most fundamental soft skills for leaders is empathy.

Your people are humans, and humans have feelings. You want to build strong relationships with your employees, so put yourself in their shoes. Be compassionate, listen to them and take their thoughts on board.

If your employees think you’re only in it for yourself, you’ll soon find that your team’s productivity levels fall into a ditch that’s incredibly difficult to climb out of.

Learning how to be empathetic with your people can take time; it’s no over-night task. But once you nail it you’ll reap the benefits of a strong team culture, an increase in trust and therefore higher productivity levels. What’s not to like?

how to be a good manager listening skills meeting employees

Focus on development 

Invest in your people and they’ll thank you for it. They’ll be (and stay) engaged and passionate in their roles and trust you as a manager – both of which are incredibly valuable if a business is to thrive. And they’re more likely to stick with the organisation – which is always a bonus.

The right training and support will help employees to continuously build on their skills, meaning they’ll be bringing increasing value to the business as they grow. Our research found that only a third of UK workers say they feel engaged and focussed on a typical working day - there’s room for improvement here, to say the least.

Why not try these tips to help grow and engage your team?

  • Set monthly or quarterly goals to chase after
  • Ask them where they want to be. What area would they like to pursue and how can you help them get there?
  • Arrange frequent review meetings to track their progress
  • Automate the process: We understand that developing your employees can be time consuming, so why should you spend more time than you need to? Breathe’s document management feature can save you bags of precious time so that you can focus on what matters: your people. To start your free trial, click here.


You’re passionate about your job, so you want each task completed to the best possible standard. We get it.

But it’s incredibly easy to fall into a cycle of wanting to do everything yourself, a cycle that only results in stress, ridiculous workloads and the nasty habit that is presenteeism.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You trust your staff enough to pay them, so trust them to do the job well.

Before you take on any task, question it. Get into the habit of asking yourself “who else could do this?". You’d be doing yourself a favour and helping your employees grow by giving them more responsibility. Trust us – they'll will thank you for it (and so will you).

Be resilient

This is all about your mindset.

Resilience means that you’re able to approach stressful situations productively and positively. It’s your attitude towards your team when things don’t go to plan. It’s the ability to accept things for what they are and not sit wishing they were different. This is commonly known as agile management – a concept that’s being adopted by an increasing number of businesses in today’s world.

How you deal with situations affects your team’s impression of you and how much they trust you, which we all know is a make-or-break factor when it comes to how they perform in their roles.

Your resilience will also affect how resilient they are – so it’s important to lead by example here.

Need to build on your resilience as a manager? Head over to this great article by Harvard Business Review for some useful tips.

Don’t micro-manage

We all know employees roll their eyes when a micro-manager is brought up in conversation. So don’t be one (let’s say it again for those at the back).

A common cause of micro-management is pressure to deliver results to those above, so if this is the case it’s natural for you to want to keep a close eye on your team’s and progress. You’re only human.

But, this is a habit that only brings productivity to a grinding halt, quickly dissolves trust, brings your company culture down, leads to low staff retention and – ultimately – your own burnout. So, as you’ve probably guessed, this is something you should steer well clear of.

In reality, if you take a step back and put some faith in your team to do their job effectively, they’ll deliver much better results than if you stand there looking over their shoulder.

They’ll be happy in their role and you’ll smash your targets. It’s a win-win.

Manage Performance