The Four Traits of Successful Managers

Kelvin Roth

Over the years, I have seen many lists of attributes of a good manager. I’ve read business articles with lists of the top 10-25 traits of a good manager and books that spend hundreds of pages describing qualities that a manager should have to be successful. While there is plenty of good information in all those sources, I believe we only need to look to successful sports managers to distill all those words into the four key qualities. The qualities that define a championship coach are the same attributes that can help EHS and business managers succeed. They are:

1. Recruiting: All successful managers choose good employees. They select employees that bring skills to advance the team. They not only hire good people, but they hire the right good people. Good managers learn the strengths and weaknesses of their teams, understand what is missing to achieve the organization’s goals, and bring in the right people.

2. Prioritizing: A good manager can see the “end zone” and prioritize the necessary steps to reach that goal. This means sorting through the busy work and identifying the key activities/programs that will lead to long-term success. Letting go of activities that may seem good but don’t advance the organization can be difficult. There will be things that won’t get done, and that’s okay because they weren’t the important ones. Think of this as your game plan.

3. Delegating: You can’t just hand out assignments and expect your organization to grow. Delegation is a plan agreed on by two parties that establishes expectations, activities, and timelines. It ensures that the strengths of the individual are used fully within the team, and allows all members to contribute to the success of the team. Employees need a sense of the importance of what they’re working on – its importance to the company, its importance to customers – and need to know their role in accomplishing the goal. Employees who understand these items are more easily empowered to succeed. This is your play book.

4. Coaching: You must develop your people to do their jobs better than you can. Inspire them to be the best and transfer your knowledge and skills to them. This is the only way that you will be able to take on new challenges yourself. Think about how many championship coaches have had assistants that have gone on to be champions. A good coach or manager is not afraid of his team succeeding. Trust me: There is an infinite amount of work to be done and good managers will always be in demand.

What  do you think about this list? Do any of these traits resonate with your experience? What advice do you have for those who are trying to develop these attributes?


About Kelvin Roth

Kelvin Roth is Past President of the NAEM Board of Directors. Follow him on Twitter at @Oenodog.

View all post by Kelvin Roth »

1 Comment
  1. wbates8194

    March 6, 2012

    Your article is spot on! I have always admired great amateur and professional coaches for their focus and determination. They always seem to get closest to where they want to go, not by “hope” but by “hard work”. Hiring and retaining talented employees is by far one of the greatest challenges for a leader. It requires extreme patience and constant searching. You can’t “make” someone fit a need, and often times that’s what happens so that we can fill a position. What I have found helpful is to constantly be looking for future employees that fit our culture and potential future needs through professional networking and attending college career fairs.

Leave your comment