Antonia Horta-Osorio

What makes a great manager: is it calmness under pressure? Risk-taking ability? Encouraging nature? Fairness?

According to a new survey of 2,500 UK workers conducted by Reed recruitment, communication (21%) is the most important factor in determining a top manager. Communication actually ranks higher than strong leadership (18%) and fairness (14%) in the poll, which also asked respondents to pick their ideal manager from a list of celebrities. Barack Obama and Richard Branson were the most chosen names.

Of course, the traits of a good manager are not mutually exclusive. The nature of strong leadership in the traditional sense is evolving from a carrot-and-stick approach, to being an influential presence in the business, approachable and able to share a clear vision. It’s no surprise that communication, in this sense, is essential to relay that vision of where the business is going, and how every member of staff plays into getting there together.

Reed group managing director Tom Lovell told HR magazine all good leaders will have the most commonly mentioned qualities such as good communication and strong leadership, but the top managers will demonstrate at least some of the more specialist traits.
“There are some overarching qualities that all of the best leaders will have,” he said. “But there are some things like a sense of humour and compassion that will come easier to some than others. Different managers will have different strengths in this area. I think you’d be hard pushed to find someone will have every single skill mentioned.”