Qualities of a good manager

I was pondering on this thought for sometimes.

After many years in Oracle, I’ve been managed by three different managers, and was about to have my fourth when I decided to leave last June in 2012.

They’ve been all great managers. I learned a great deal in managing people in a large organisation like Oracle.
From what I’ve learned, these are the qualities I liked from three of of my past managers, something that I could learn from for my future careers:

  • Good managers communicate well. They have good commands of spoken and written words. They know how to communicate through various situations and with various cultural backgrounds of his/her direct reports. They are not reluctant to say “no” or “do not know”, and offer some time to gather more information before giving answers to a difficult or uncertain queries.
  • Good managers give comprehensive feedback. Direct reports spend their time succumbed to their work, often not allowing themselves to be able to judge their own work objectively. Managers can and must see a work objectively. There’s no excuse in that. This way, it is a manager’s responsibility to be able to give a careful and objective feedback, and with utmost care, to elaborate it into something useful for the next steps. Feedbacks should not be merely, “I don’t like this, try a new approach.” It is too ambiguous.
  • Good managers care. Good managers believe in nurturing people and understanding the human side of every direct report. People are manager’s most important assets. If they get sick, productivity dwindles. If they don’t feel happy, productivity also dwindles. The best managers are able to make a friendly bond and show empathies.
  • Good managers don’t herd, they steward. Nobody likes to be herded like lowly peasants. A good manager is a steward of service to his/her direct reports. Instead of showing bourgeois attitudes, a manager must stand on the same level and mentor the direct reports. Lack of skills? Slow speed? Bad results? Let’s see if a manager can handle these and help the direct reports to fix their qualities.
  • Good managers listen before they judge. Clich├ęd but true. Many managers won’t listen and just want to be listened to. The best ones are the ones who listen first. If a direct report is problematic, asking him to explain about his problems and obstacles are better than directly accusing and judging him, worse if it’s in front of other employees.
  • Good managers are ethical. They prioritise on ethical decisions and values. They respect the privacy of their direct reports and other employees, and do not share problems with other employees except the top management, if it is necessary.