Common Qualities of Exceptional Managers

Our definition of an exceptional manager is someone who has mastered the art of getting things done through people.  Exceptional managers are much better than average managers at planning, organizing, leading, controlling, and coaching.  They can inspire and guide a group of people toward a common goal.  They believe in the company’s vision and they facilitate employee engagement and collaboration to reach the company’s goals. Manager performance assessments can be used to determine how well a manager is performing.  Exceptional managers have many similar qualities and here are a few of them:

Inspires Others

One of the qualities of an exceptional manager is the ability to communicate the company’s vision in simple terms. Having a vision is one thing, but articulating it clearly and simply is a specific talent.  They see the big picture and they help their employees see it too. When managers communicate the vision their employees have something to believe in and they feel good about the work they’re doing.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward


Exceptional managers get their employees to trust them.  These managers understand that trust must be earned, so they do what they say and keep their promises. If employees don’t trust their manager, morale suffers.

“Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”     Patrick Lencioni

Focused on Goals

Exceptional managers have focused goals and objectives.  All of their attention and energy are dedicated to achieving those goals. Their time management decisions are based on how to make the most progress towards their goals with the time, resources and people available.

“The goal of management is to remove obstacles.”   Paul Orfalea


Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong ethical principles and values. Integrity means following your ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even when no one is watching.  Having integrity means you are true to yourself and to others. 

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”  Dwight Eisenhower


Exceptional managers own their shortcomings and mistakes. They expect everyone to take responsibility for their actions, including themselves.

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”  Arnold Glasow

Action Oriented

Exceptional managers take immediate action and they lead by example. They focus on the present demands and tasks and they manage them through to completion. An exceptional manager cannot simply witness events.  They must act swiftly with the goals and objectives in mind. Managers who hesitate often do so because of perfectionism, procrastination or fear of taking risks.   

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”  Paul Hawken

Solution Focused

Exceptional managers achieve positive change with people, teams and organizations. They identify what is already working and amplify it to make useful changes. They focus on what is possible rather than on the causes of problems.  They stop doing what isn’t working and start doing something different. Solution focused managers focus on simplicity, cooperation, employee strengths and available resources.  Small, strategic solutions are used to achieve goals.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” Brian Tracy

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Colin Powell

Motivates Others

Exceptional managers lead from the front by being the example.  You motivate the people around you most effectively through your actions.  Research in business leadership has shown that a leader who is highly self-motivated inspires their workforce to join them in their pursuit of success.

Other research suggests that motivation is contagious.  People work harder when they are surrounded by other motivated individuals.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets people to do the greatest things.” Ronald W. Reagan

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Mentors Others

Exceptional managers are not afraid to push people outside their comfort zone. They are invested in helping employees reach their full potential.   In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins identified that great companies have one thing in common: leaders who mentor others.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  Jack Welch

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” Harvey S. Firestone

Empowers Others

Exceptional managers give employees the tools and resources necessary to make their own decisions in the workplace without supervision. Empowering others creates a workplace environment where employees can grow, learn, create new initiatives and expand their scope of responsibilities.   

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”  George S. Patton

Emotional Intelligence

Exceptional managers display self-awareness and self-management. They show social awareness and they excel in relationship management. Their emotional intelligence (EQ) helps them build a foundation of trust, mutual respect and positive attitudes among their employees.

“You can’t move up in the staircase of leadership unless you are emotionally intelligent.” Amit Ray

Enthusiasm and Passion

Exceptional managers display high levels of enthusiasm and passion.  They have a burning desire to excel.  Employees want to be passionate about what they do, and they want to be surrounded by people who are also passionate about what they do.  Genuine enthusiasm is contagious.

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”     Steve Jobs

Manager performance assessments can be used to determine if your company’s manager displays many of the above qualities. 

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