Traits of Outstanding Managers

(This was first published on LinkedIn)

When you've worked as long as I have in IT you start to notice traits and habits of people who are good at their jobs. I've had the pleasure of working for some great managers and this is what they have all had in common:

Communication and Awareness - Share everything!
The best managers keep you in the loop and reward you for returning the favor. This prevents getting side swiped by informal conversations and decisions made outside of standard channels.

Even better are the managers that play a key role during critical situations. Being a conduit for resources and information when clients are experiencing significant issues allows technical resources to focus on the problems.

This is really the opposite of micro-managing. As professionals, we need enough information for us to do our jobs and be somewhat autonomous. My best managers visited periodically to provide that information while receiving feedback from me on my work load (think management by walking around). The worst ones were so intrusive that I never really knew when a crisis was real.

Consistency and Emotional Stability
Change is really the only constant in IT. Projects change. Software changes. Systems fail. It's just part of working in IT. Rather than telegraphing these changes, the best managers absorb many of them. Not transferring emotions from upstream is also key. Emotions run high when systems fail and processes are not completed correctly. My best managers translated these emotions into actions.