5 Lesser Known Leadership Qualities Great Managers Have

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨For Business Leaders⟩

Vision, self-confidence and unwavering commitment – these are leadership qualities that are commonly attributed to great managers. But aside from the usual suspects, what other traits do you need?


Whether you are a new or veteran manager, understanding and cultivating your signature leadership style is of utmost importance.

If people are excluded from conversations, they’re out of the loop and communication starts to fail. Tensions develop, inefficiencies happen, and people start feeling isolated and excluded.Deborah Ancona, Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management

Frameworks such as Daniel Goleman’s six distinct leadership styles – authoritarian, paternalistic, democratic, laissez-faire, pacesetting and coaching – are a good place to start your self-enquiry. However, we must keep in mind that every manager brings a unique combination of leadership qualities, as well as values, experience and skills to the table.

Understanding your leadership style does not mean that you should neglect your weaknesses though. If anything, self-awareness helps a manager negate their weak spots, giving them the insight to pursue leadership training or to build a team who will make up for their shortcomings.


A good manager continually seeks to improve their leadership skills. A great manager continually seeks to grow and get the most out of those around them.

True leadership is about being able to achieve results whilst building teams and developing people to their highest potential.John Maxwell of The John Maxwell Company

Every team member has a predisposition of strengths and weaknesses, as well as overarching desires for where their career will take them. Thus, managers must be aware of these so that they can nurture their abilities and to place them in positions where they will flourish.

By putting the growth of your team before your own, you will not only benefit from an increase in their capabilities, but you will also benefit from gaining their respect.


We’ve all met a manager who approached work with a stern face and an iron fist. While this method can be effective, one must be conscious of whether being too serious is creating a negative working environment.

Managers can in fact lead with positivity, and one of the most underrated leadership qualities is that of having a sense of humour. Because at the end of the day, everyone, even our colleagues, are humans who have emotions and love to laugh!

A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.Deborah Ancona, Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management

So if your team is low on morale, laughter can be the right prescription to uplift their spirits. If you need to deliver bad news, humour can soften the impact of your words. And if you’re struggling to build rapport with your team, humour can bring you closer to them by revealing your lighter side.

The best thing about this underrated leadership quality is that it is infectious!


Every organisation has an overarching culture beset by its core values. But if you take a closer look at the individual teams that make up the greater whole, you will find that each has a slightly different culture in their own right.

True leadership is about being able to achieve results whilst building teams and developing people to their highest potential.Brian Chesky, Co-Founder of AirBnB

Therefore, culture is not just something that upper level management are responsible for. Managers must use their leadership skills to protect and nourish culture at a team level.

Great managers ensure that their team’s culture aligns with the organisation’s core values and looks to foster it in a way that uplifts their team members. For example, an advertising agency’s creative team may benefit more from implementing a culture built around Design Thinking principles and work procedures than an accounts team.


Managers have traditionally been viewed as those who are all-knowing. But with the marketplace evolving at an ever-faster pace, managers can’t be expected to have all the answers.

Instead of knowing everything first-hand, great managers rely on the skills, experience and cumulative efforts of their team to provide them with the necessary inputs and opinions. Thus, one of the most important leadership skills in our day and age is not so much in knowing, but in the art of sense-making. For unless we can make sense of what is going on, we will be unable to make calculated decisions as to how to move forward.

Want to take your leadership skills to the next level? Sign up for any of our John Maxwell courses at a promotional rate, or our Upgraders Package which includes courses such as Leadership by John Maxwell, Design Thinking & Innovation by ESSEC Business School and Project Management by PMI.

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