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Five characteristics of great managers

Gold five

On our management programmes we regularly discuss what it means to be a great manager. When we ask people what they themselves want from their managers we continually hear the five key themes: direction, openness, modelling, trust and challenge.


We want our managers to provide us with a sense of direction. In order to feel committed we need to be clear about what we are aiming to achieve, what the priorities are and why.

Ask yourself: do you clearly communicate the outcomes you are looking for and your expectations? Is your team committed to this?

Two happy women and a laptop



We want our managers to be approachable. We want them to be open and interested in us. We want them to ask us questions, to really listen and to be responsive.

Ask yourself: do you make time for your team, to get to know them? Do you actively listen, free from distractions?

Lead by example

We want our managers to do what they say they will, to behave as they expect others to behave, and to be honest and fair.

Ask yourself: are you consistently behaving in ways that you expect of others? Do you sometimes say one thing and do another?


We want our managers to trust us. When they give us work, that they know we can do, we want to have the time and space to get it done, and don’t want to be micro-managed.

Ask yourself: are you happy to delegate and trust others to do great work? Do you let go? 


We also want our managers to challenge us, to stretch us and invest in our development. Great managers push us to solve problems, they provide us with interesting and challenging work, and they spot opportunities for us to gain new skills and expertise.

Ask yourself: do you proactively seek new opportunities for your team? Do you ensure there is time and space for learning in your team?


We can’t control what our team members think of us, but we can work on becoming the best manager we can be. Providing our team with these five elements is a great start.

If you want to develop or refine your management approach, take a look at our training programmes.


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Charlotte Scott

About Charlie Scott

Charlie specialises in leadership development, team facilitation and strategy development. Charlie worked for over 20 years in the not-for-profit sector. Before joining =mc ten years ago, she created and...