There are good managers and there are bad managers. Sadly, the people who would make really great managers often don’t realize their potential to lead. These subtle signs — ones that you have either overlooked or never noticed — signal that you could be a fantastic boss. Don’t let others miss out on your leadership. When you’ve checked off enough boxes, go get that promotion!
1. You give constructive feedback
There are several ways to give feedback on a project or idea. You could simply smile and say you like it, regardless of what you really think, in fear of hurting feelings. That helps no one, especially if you see glaring errors. You could be the naysayer: Whatever the idea, and whoever the project manager is, it’s awful, try again. Even if a project really is bad, that kind of feedback can stop progress in its tracks.
Genuine, constructive feedback includes specific action items and suggestions on ways to improve or expand the idea. If you have a gift for that, and people are often asking for your opinions, well done. You’ve got a great managerial skill.
2. You’re already treated like a manager
Some people are just natural leaders. They’re the alphas in the group, and have the ability to step up and take charge when others are disappearing into the bushes like Homer Simpson. These people are magnets for co-workers. Yes, there is a boss, and they will formally go to that boss to make sure everything is done by the book — but if they’re coming to you for solutions to problems, advice on projects, or mentoring of any kind, you are the manager they really want.
Think about how many bosses you’ve had that never quite seemed up to the task; they were promoted through nepotism, favoritism, family ties, or pure luck. Now think about the people working under them that had it all together. You could very well be that person in your company.
3. You care about performance more than titles and money
Both money and titles are important to a certain degree. You need money to live. Titles dictate responsibility and influence. However, if you put those things second to the performance you give, that’s the sign of a great manager.
For you, it’s not about peacocking around the office, sucking up to the executives, and impressing people with your shiny new company car. No, you are there to do a job, and do it well. You want to see the company grow and you want your input to have impact. When you do that, the titles and money will come to you anyway.
4. You’re a natural listener
Have you ever noticed that your co-workers are inclined to tell you their problems? For some reason, you’re the go-to shoulder to cry on, or you’re getting that phone call at midnight from a friend who really needs your advice before an interview. You clearly have a knack for not just listening to other people’s problems, but making them feel like you really hear what they’re saying. This is an excellent trait for a manager. It can defuse tense situations at work and help with team-building and employee motivation. (See also: 15 Soft Skills Every Employer Values)
5. You are a cheerleader more than a naysayer
Are you a stop sign or a green light? Do you build up ideas or cut them down? Are you generally more positive than negative? If you’re nodding, you have the mindset that makes for a great manager. This isn’t to say you have to agree with everything and bury your head in the sand when bad ideas are presented. But, you see potential when others don’t. You can take the acorn of an idea and help it grow into a mighty oak. Your enthusiasm for the work and the initiatives will benefit your company, your employees, and your career.
6. You are always looking for ways to improve yourself
Self-improvement should never stop. Jim Rohn, a famous motivational speaker, once said, “Work on yourself more than you do on your job.” By following that advice, you will not only become a better person, but a better employee and a valuable contributor. If you have a manager that believes they know it all, that’s a cause for concern. The greatest thinkers and entrepreneurs from history continued to learn and improve right up until the day they died. They were smart and humble enough to know that self-improvement is a proven path to success.
7. You show empathy for your teammates
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s important to know the difference between that and being sympathetic, which is an internal feeling and does not take into account someone else’s emotions.
If you are blessed with great empathy, you have the natural ability to understand what someone else is going through emotionally, and usually know just how to respond to make that person feel better. You listen, you engage, you react, and you leave someone in a better state than you found them. This is a fabulous skill for a manager for obvious reasons. From helping employees with difficult and stressful situations, to dealing with anger, disappointment, and even sorrow, your empathy will take you a long way. (See also: This One Skill Can Make You a Better Boss)
8. You don’t get stressed or shaken by sudden change
Turbulence is not just for flights. All businesses, large or small, are going to experience ups and downs. When you’re plunged into boiling water, do you go soft like a carrot, hard like an egg, or create something wonderful, like coffee? If you’re the latter, you are going to excel in any kind of working environment.
Managers that react to sudden change with professionalism, positivity, and a can-do attitude will inspire a team, solve the problem, and come out smelling of roses. What’s more, this is a skill that can be learned, strengthened, and refined. So if you currently turn to Jell-O when the pressure is on, find a mentor that can help you get better in a crisis. (See also: 8 Types of People Who Will Help Grow Your Career)
9. You don’t get involved in gossip or company politics
That’s not to say you don’t understand the politics in a company. But there is a difference between knowing how to survive, and actively engaging in all the water cooler chitchat and backstabbing moves. Anyone who climbs the ladder by throwing other people off it will eventually find themselves on the receiving end of the same treatment. And in the process, they will lose the respect of their team. If you avoid all of the nonsense that is inherent in most corporations, you will be a better manager, and honestly, a better person.
10. You are always ready to step up and solve problems
It’s always not easy; in fact, it can be downright intimidating or require a bunch of extra work and hassle. But, you do it anyway because you know you can help. That’s the attitude of a great manager. You roll up your sleeves and you’re not afraid to get dirty. You have no doubt had managers that were more like dictators; they were happy to bark orders, but never stepped up to the plate. Those people do not inspire the same kind of respect and confidence from their employees as the managers that dive in.
11. You put the team and the outcome before personal gain
It’s not about you. It’s about the end result. You don’t feel the need to take credit for those times you swooped in to save the day. In fact, you’d much rather see one of your team members get rewarded for the work they did, even though you were right there with them every step of the way. This selfless attitude is a fantastic trait of a good manager. To be happy when the team does well, and be proud when their employees are getting results, is rare in many organizations. Sadly, a lot of managers are quite happy to take the credit when they’ve done nothing at all, and that creates awful morale and a loyalty problem. That will never be an issue when you’re in charge.
12. You’re doing a manager’s job already
Take a look at your current task list. What is in your job description, and what are you actually doing day in, day out? You may have been doing way more than required for quite some time now, and that’s often the case these days. As departments are downsized, some employees are required to take on more work. So much more that they have actually taken on a managerial role. If this is you, the time is ripe to sit down with your boss or human resources department and talk about a raise. (See also: How to Be Successful as a First-Time Manager)