10 Leadership Qualities of the Best Office Managers
Office managers can be the unsung hero at companies — they’re usually in the delicate position of reporting to executives while leading a team. With all that balancing, there are some tried and true tips to succeed. Harvey Smith, CEO of Institute Success — a group that specializes in coaching executives — says it all starts with leadership. “Exceptional leaders deliver results.”
- Strong Communicator - Effective managers communicate a clear vision for the success of the organization and what each team member is expected to bring to the table. Day-to-day responsibilities should be delineated as well as long-term goals. Good managers don’t wait until there’s a problem to open up communication — they’re constantly checking in and monitoring progress so nothing gets to a crisis level. That also means a good manager is just as good at listening as they are at talking!
- Honest - Manipulation — intended or not — can poison your team. Always be forthright about your intentions and what you’re asking employees to do. “Trust in leadership is crucial to any organization,” Smith says. A good leader is someone who is candid both in good times and bad and transparent in communicating their expectations. People excel when they know what’s expected of them and believe in the person in charge of them.
- Models Good Behavior - A good manager knows how to lead by example. You can’t expect people to put in the extra effort for a big project if they don’t see you doing the same. Engage your workers, and make sure to model the positive attributes you want them to mirror. Does the team need to communicate more? Set the tone by sending morning updates on that project. And don’t forget about how you say things. “Since about 55 percent of how we communicate is in our body language, our workforce doesn’t always believe what we say, they observe what we do,” Smith says. If what you do doesn’t match what you say, employees will see a leader as inauthentic and without credibility.
Coordinate an office potluck with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Focused Priorities - Managers are often the people in the office who have to deal with everything. This can mean being embroiled in one task when an emergency pops up. It’s important to be able to quickly prioritize and maintain focus. In turn, that means being able to delegate and train team members to handle other nonessential tasks of yours when needed. Always act like you’re training your replacement — you want to be focused on moving upward and not staying in place.
- Empathetic - Good leaders need to have compassion for what members of their team are going through. Understanding what is going on in your staffers’ lives can help in managing them. While you don’t want to get into the business of dispensing personal advice on a regular basis, it’s important to be human. In her best-selling book Option B, former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg advocates that people perform better when they are able to bring their whole selves to work — after all, we all go through losses and difficult times at some point in our lives.
- Positive - A happy employee tends to be a more productive employee, and a company’s overall morale typically flows from the top down. A positive manager sets the tone for the people they manage. From a pure business perspective, establishing a positive workplace culture means you’re less likely to lose good employees — creating less stress for everyone. Genius Tip: Try these 20 tips for creating and keeping a positive corporate culture.
Plan a company-wide community service day with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Calm - This means putting the old adage “never let them see you sweat” into practice (even when you’re actually sweating). A leader has to be cool under pressure because that is when your workers look to you for guidance on how they should react. Businesses will go through their ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll lose a big pitch you thought you were a shoo-in for. Remain calm, and outline the next steps your team needs to take in light of what’s happened.
- Flexible - Be able to roll with the punches. Maybe you picked someone to do a certain project but it’s not the perfect fit. Be flexible enough to recognize that — and change it. Remember that your skillset needs to be constantly changing and improving as well. Change is in the very nature of management.
- Giving - Good leaders connect the organization’s success to that of their workers’ successes and help develop them into leaders. “Leaders who invest in their people create trust within the organization,” Smith says. Don’t shy away from recognizing workers who have really stepped up to the plate, whether it’s in a team meeting or a regular email with “above and beyond” mentions. People want to be recognized for doing well. In fact, it’s often more valuable than tangible benefits. Genius Tip: Use these 51 employee recognition and award ideas to get started.
- Trusting - Trust boosts morale, and good morale boosts production. Employees will get frustrated quickly with a micromanaging approach. Plus, micromanaging takes away your valuable time to work on initiatives that will move the company forward. Set up reasonable expectations, and if your workers are reaching goals and hitting targets, you can assume all is going well. On the other hand, if performance becomes an issue, then you’ll know you need to check in more closely with those team members.
Being a good manager takes retrospection and practice. With these ideas, you’ll have a go-to checklist when you start wondering if you’re doing things right.
Michelle Boudin is a reporter at NBC Charlotte and a freelance writer.