Knowing the difference between a good manager and a bad manager might be the ultimate starting point for identifying the best possible business leaders.
Why is this the case? Bad managers might gain longevity by manipulating office dynamics towards their own favour, but good, effective managers are simply those who lead high-performing, loyal teams.
To truly understand what great leadership entails, we need to grasp the key attributes of a manager that inspire trust, freeing team members to commit to collective goals and do their best work.
We’re pleased to present some key wisdom from Bob Hogan of Hogan Assessment Systems. Bob has collected research on the traits of managers across the spectra of competence and performance.
We share Bob’s insights below, which then reveal the six essential characteristics that make for a strong leader.
What do followers want from their leaders?
In order to perform at their best, employees need a leader they can trust and are motivated to follow without reservation. According to some employee descriptions of good and bad leaders, the four qualities people want in their managers are:
- Integrity that ensures power won’t be abused
- Judgement that produces good decisions
- Competence that stems from deep, proven knowledge and skill, and
- Vision that recognises the big picture and clarifies each personal role within it.
These are all necessary traits, with integrity being the most essential. Without them, leaders and their teams miss the mark.
Personality predicts leadership
Personality is a fundamental factor in leadership. The behavioural traits of managers in relation to others can determine whether a team operates smoothly and cohesively, or if it can meaningfully get off the ground at all.
A study looking at CEOs who turned around underperforming corporations shows the importance of two key personality traits: high humility and fierce ambition.
As it turns out, humility and ambition are far more important than charisma in predicting a CEO’s success, and with it, the whole organisation’s prospects.
Leadership drives engagement, which drives performance
Engagement can be seen as the way employees behave and contribute to an organisation, all in response to leadership.
Strong leaders produce high engagement, which in turn generates effective teams and departments. And the cornerstone of engagement is great relationships between leaders and employees. This suggests that leaders who relate well to employees can drive company success indirectly, and from the bottom up — not just from the top down.
Leaders drive financial performance
With a great leader at the helm, a company has a fighting chance to become and stay profitable.
As the research shows, the CEO’s leadership plays a large part in the equation of a company’s financial prospects. With effective leadership built on strong relationship skills and helpful personality features, the corporate machinery is more primed to grow and sustain new revenues.
There are more bad managers than good managers
If we look at the status quo, it might seem that great leaders are hard to come by. Across studies, there appears to be a 50% average rate of ‘management failure’, and that only covers those managers who have been fired.
The actual number of managers that remain in their jobs might be as high as two-thirds, and many of them likely manoeuvre into ‘safe’ positions.
The result? An employee epidemic of low morale and high stress.
Bad managers lead from the dark side
Dark-side personality traits (the derailing characteristics that arise after settling into a new working environment, or that come out under periods of stress) are the fuel of the day-to-day dysfunctional leadership of bad managers.
Classic dark-side features like micro-management, indecisiveness, and immaturity can do serious damage to a team, breaking down trust and performance, and introducing stressors that make common goals harder to achieve.
What it all means: The six crucial traits of effective leaders
In consideration of all these points, Bob Hogan distils six specific, essential qualities of leaders who bring the best out of their teams.
These traits are: integrity, good judgement, competence, vision, humility, and fierce ambition for the success of the group.
Is it impossible to find these key traits in one person? Not necessarily. With a refined, research-validated approach to leadership assessment, stakeholders can make choices that pave the way for breakthrough corporate achievement.
We would love to help you identify the most promising leaders for your organisation. Click here to contact us.