Leadership Qualities All Managers Must Have

November 14, 2014

public speaking faux pas

GONE are the days when organizations could afford to have one body of workers who were managers and a separate group who were leaders.  In today’s business environment, excellence in management requires clearly demonstrated leadership qualities.  To explain this, it is helpful to first understand the difference between management and leadership.

By definition, management is the ability to plan, organize, direct, and control resources to achieve results.  In contrast, leadership is the ability to influence or inspire others to pursue the results envisioned by the leader. Both are necessary and important functions of a business. Management is operational – the day to day running of the business; leadership is strategic – looking towards the future. Success today requires managers who demonstrate both strong management and leadership qualities.

So now that we know the difference between management and leadership, what are the leadership qualities that managers must have and how are they demonstrated?  If we keep in mind the definitions above, the following qualities are needed to be able to influence and inspire others to pursue and accomplish the results envisioned:

Be Authentic at All Times

  • Use everyday language. Avoid jargon or confusing language.
  • Be genuine and emotionally honest. Speak the truth. Be trustworthy.
  • Be realistic and practical.
  • Address the “undiscussables” forthrightly.

Be Attuned to Others and the Situations around You

  • Be sensitive to the needs, concerns, desires, likes, and dislikes of others.
  • Be aware of what is going on in the organization and the marketplace.
  • Show people that you know them and that you care.
  • Adopt a “you” or “we” attitude, not an “I” attitude.

Be Adaptable in Your Approach

  • Be open and flexible enough to change as circumstances change.
  • Be results-focused, relationship-focused, or balanced as necessary.
  • Be assertive, attentive, or balanced as necessary.
  • Be direct or indirect, emotional, or unemotional as necessary.

Be Affirmative

  • Be appreciative and supportive of others.
  • Be optimistic, approving, hopeful, and encouraging.
  • Focus on things that are going right. Reframe negatives to positives.
  • Overcome negativity and resistance.

Be Achievement-Oriented

  • Take initiative.
  • Be results-driven and action-oriented.
  • Push for excellence.
  • Solve problems and overcome obstacles.

By developing these leadership qualities, managers will be poised to meet the challenges of today’s workplace.

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About The Author

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.


  1. avatar

    […] What are your boss’s highest priorities? “Sure,” you might answer, “just the other day she stated this is our highest concern.” But is that the highest priority? Formal priorities and informal priorities may not be the same. What are the pressures on your boss from above? How can you help your boss achieve the results that really matter? […]

  2. avatar

    […] What leadership qualities do you need to be a successful manager? Jackie Green offers a comprehensive list of all the skills required to lead your people.  […]

  3. avatar

    Hi Jackie, thank for the crisp and great insights. I am a manager but only when I care and give direction to my team .. I see results. I cannot agree more that managers need to be leaders in this age..

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