What Makes a Good Manager in 2023?

hedge fund manager with client
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A good manager often needs to encompass a breathless and seemingly endless list of characteristics. In the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general definitions of “good” management often amounted to meeting deadlines and fulfilling goals, delegating work appropriately, setting clear expectations with team members, identifying key objectives within the company and, of course, managing your time and inbox appropriately. 

Some aspects of management have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many workplaces are now completely remote or work in a hybrid model, meaning there is less face-to-face time afforded between management and staff. Over the course of the last three years, there have been subtle changes in what it means to be a good manager. Getting work done still matters, but managers themselves are finding ways they can do that and be better as leaders when it comes to looking after their teams.

While it’s difficult to say with complete certainty what a good manager will look like in 2023, here are some traits good managers tend to share.

Good Managers Are Good Communicators

Over the last few years, the way we communicate with leadership has become vital for the success of every employee. It has also become much more personalized. Once, you might have only spoken with your manager via email. Now, you probably use messenger apps to chat throughout the day and have their cellphone number in the event of an emergency. 

A good manager, now and into the future, is someone who is a good communicator. They communicate well with everyone in and out of their department and conduct regular check-ins to see how employees are progressing or where they might need help.

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Good Managers Possess Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence has been a popular buzzword for the last few years. Traditional intelligence tells us the smartest person in the room is the one with the highest IQ. However, emotional intelligence is the ability to express empathy, recognize emotions and handle interpersonal relationships.

Increasingly, more and more workplaces are seeking talent and leaders who possess emotional intelligence. Those with emotional intelligence, especially those in managerial roles, are better able to build diverse teams and inclusive environments welcoming one and all. They make decisions but in a responsible manner. If the outcome isn’t great, good managers will own up to their mistakes. Good managers express empathy as well as encourage others to share their thoughts and feedback with the team. 

Emotional intelligence also lends itself nicely to having solid social skills. This doesn’t mean you’re BFFs with everyone on the team. Rather, good managers will build healthy relationships with others, nurture these relationships and encourage team members to build similarly healthy relationships with colleagues.

Good Managers Are Diplomatic

If a good manager has complaints — about anything from difficult clients to certain work processes — the likelihood is that employees or other members of the leadership team will never find out. 

Rather than get bogged down in gossip or take anything personally, good managers embrace a diplomatic mindset. They put their emphasis on the goals of the business and the efforts necessary to reach these goals. If they had a short-range view focus, it would be easy to get caught up in the present drama or issues. Good managers have a long-range view focus, meaning they see the bigger picture and will work hard to reach it. And having this type of long-range focus is a great thing for managers because it ultimately catapults them into positions of significant leadership.

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Good Managers Are Active Listeners

Listening is a timeless trait that will always be in demand for managers. However, it is active listening that usually tends to set good managers ahead of the curve. 

Active listening means you are listening to what is being said in the moment. You are not thinking of a response or a solution to have at the ready or thinking about what you’re doing after a meeting is over. You are comprehending what others have to say. In some cases, you may even be taking notes. This is helpful if you don’t want to forget important details or want to reflect more on certain talking points after the discussion is over. It may seem simple to be an active listener, but a good manager practices it and always finds ways to become better at listening over time.

Good Managers Are Naturally Enthusiastic 

Perhaps this is a somewhat more anecdotal take from my end, but I have personally found that the best managers are enthusiastic. 

Granted, this doesn’t mean they need to be drinking so much company Kool-Aid that they appear to short-circuit if you ask them questions unrelated to work. What I mean by enthusiasm is that a good manager enjoys the role they are in, the company they work for and the overall industry. 

A good manager will be naturally enthusiastic. You notice it as soon as you meet them and often as quickly as the interview process. Ask them a few questions about how they ended up at the business and they will often detail a bigger narrative. Sometimes it was a role where they are a veteran in the industry or went to school specifically to learn more. Other times it’s a happy accident. 

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Whatever the case may be, this kind of natural, authentic enthusiasm is infectious. It makes you want to work for this manager, and company, and do the very best work you can and be part of the fun. 

Good Managers Are Calm

At the present time in writing this, we truly don’t know what will happen in 2023. There is talk of a looming recession and 2022 has been a year of consistent layoffs across all industries. It’s enough to make any employee nervous and uncertain about their future. 

Good managers do not add fuel to the speculation fire. They are calm, both in the presence of unforeseen circumstances and the uncertain future ahead of us. In 2023 and beyond, the best managers will be the ones who remain calm, collected and capable.

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