Five Things That Make You a Great Manager & Leader

Good and great manager and leader for teams

In 2008, Google turned its analytics machine on its own employees in an attempt to discover what makes a good manager. Ten years later, they’ve come back with more research—results that echo and strengthen their earlier findings.

Learnings like this continue to be enormously impactful for organizations. In fact, according to their State of the American Manager report, Gallup asserts that “companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.” As it turns out, great employees don’t always make good managers. There are qualities that to look for when you’re searching for the best manager candidate.

What Are the Qualities of a Great Manager and Leader According to Google?

Today, we’re diving into five of the qualities that Google says are an absolute must for their leaders and managers:

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being
  4. Is productive and results-oriented
  5. Is a good communicator–listens and shares information

Anyone who’s worked in a team environment will recognize the truth in these findings. What’s great about the results is that any company can solve for this value set. You don’t have to be edgy, flashy, or hyper-progressive to find good managers. In a way, these traits are reflective of simply being a good human.

Is a good coach

We’re all adults here… right? That doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from advice and direction. The best manager is also part-coach. Understanding your employees—their strengths, weaknesses, and future goals—gives you the best starting point from which to coach them.

If your company doesn’t have a formal process for skill evaluation and goal setting, create one of your own. Ask good questions, listen to what they need, and judge that against how you know the organization works. Use clear feedback and expectations to help propel them forward.

For myself personally, this is one of the most important. Managers are just barking orders but they are helping to identify the talents of their team and help provide them with feedback, tools, and coaching to be their most successful work selves.

Empowers and does not micromanage

Micromanaging is an easy trap to fall into. If an employee isn’t fulfilling the obligations of the role, your instinct may be to tighten the reins. Exerting control in this way is exactly the opposite of what would actually be effective, not only for your employee but also for the organization.

It’s imperative to empower employees to own their roles, goals, and deliverables. Allow them to do the work, succeeding (or potentially failing) by setting out your vision and expectations without step-by-step directions. Micro-managing hurts your capacity provide value in the organization as well. If you’re too busy doing your employees’ jobs, you’re not moving your own agenda forward.

It’s important to help your team members and yourself to commit to focusing on the big picture. You must motivate employees through clear strategy, advocating for your team and working together from a place of trust.

Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being

We aren’t robots. Empathy, concern, and respect are critical to a high-functioning team. For an employee to feel comfortable sharing a ground-breaking idea, they have to first feel safe and supported. An environment that doesn’t welcome contribution will always be stagnant. A stagnant team isn’t a high-value team.

This is true of diversity as well. Seeking various points of view combats unconscious bias in products, services, and the company at large. There have been countless examples of products or ads that go to market with glaring flaws that could have been corrected by a diverse team.

Good managers actively foster a team that knows its stronger for having a supportive, inclusive culture.

Is productive and results-oriented

A good manager is an excellent role model. Your team will emulate your style, whether you want them to or not. Your demeanor, work ethic, and drive for results influences how your team functions and responds to challenges.

A good manager shows their team what level of workplace productivity and quality of work the organization requires. No one wants to work for someone they perceive as lazy, dishonest, or subpar. Set your goals and meet them and you’re helping your team do the same.

Is a good communicator–listens and shares information

Communication is a tricky thing to pin down. Some people have a knack for it, others have to work to develop their capacity for being open and clear.

As a leader, your voice is often the most influential in the room. But good managers also know how to listen. You never learn anything if you’re the one speaking. Giving your employees the space to contribute is the unsung hero of effective communications.

Like other behaviors, a good manager has to set the tone for communications. Clear and concise communication, frequent check-ins with the team, one on one and face-to-face meetings, and consistent messaging underpin how your team works with you and with each other.

A Great Manager Goes Above and Beyond

No matter where you hang your hat as a leader or manager, a great manager does these five things and more. It’s important to remember that as a manager, your relationship with your team is the single most important driver of engagement, employee happiness, and productivity. While not all of us will work for Google, we can certainly learn from what their employees want from their leaders and use this data and information to help drive performance with our own teams.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. A Ramanath says

    Excellent noting. It is true that all managers or leader should have these qualities but unfortunately few actually try to adapt it.

  2. Mandy Fard says

    Great qualities. If only all managers held all these qualities…. I think every HR Dept. should print and frame this post and hang it on the wall of every manager’s office. Just like how it’s mandatory to hang employment posters from EDD. That’s how valuable this advice is. It should be framed and declared mandatory!

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