Good vs Bad Manager – Which One Are You?

How to be a good leader or manager

What separates a good manager from a bad one? Managers need to be engaging, motivating, supporting, and facilitating the right work, not preventing it. A good manager will be able to  answer YES to each of the questions below.

Team Alignment

Ask yourself – Do each of your team members know, and are committed to, the Purpose, The overall vision and core values of the organisation?

Vision and Purpose – Can every employee state the company vision and Purpose? And do they understand how their role fits into that purpose? A strong purpose statement helps unite team members in understanding the ‘why’ and has them working towards the same goals. Make sure each employee is aware of what their share of work is and how it impacts the bigger picture. When employees understand their role in the company’s purpose and overall vision, they tend to find their work more meaningful and thus are likely to be more engaged and make better decisions.

Core values – These are more than just words on a piece of paper. Look at your own and each of your team members’ behaviours and actions. Are they aligned with the core values of the company? As a manager, how do you help embed the core values into your team? You must lead by example, as these behaviours often start from the top.

Keep your vision, purpose and values at the forefront of the company. Roll out regular engagement surveys and set relevant goals for each employee to analyse how they are helping in achieving the company’s vision and purpose.

Lastly, don’t forget to reward your employees, and link the rewards to the purpose & core values.

Psychological Safety

Ask yourself – Do your team members feel like they can express themselves without fear?

If you are fostering a physiologically safe workplace, your team members will be comfortable speaking up, providing feedback and sharing their ideas and concerns (and mistakes!). When people share their ideas without the fear of them being rejected or embarrassed, it unlocks opportunities for collaboration and innovation. This is vital in today’s competitive market. 

According to a 2017 Gallup poll, the data revealed that just 3 in 10 workers strongly agree that at work, their opinions seem to count. And remote work settings which are much more common now, are likely to have worsened the problem.

To help create a more psychologically safe environment, there are several ways you, as a manger, can contribute:

  • Practise inclusive leadership and model the behaviours you want to see
  • Be open minded and empathetic when others are willing to share their ideas or concerns
  • Encourage learning from mistakes or failures, without punishment (autopsies without blame)
  • Embrace productive debate, drill down to root causes and work to resolve conflicts productively

Mastery and Autonomy

Ask yourself – Are your team members given opportunities for professional development and ownership of their work?

Team members should be able to make decisions and deliver agreed outcomes without being micromanaged. As a manager, work on building your trust as this is key to strong workplace relationships. Focus your energy on big picture thinking, and let go of small details. This encourages your team to practise accountability and self development. 

To promote mastery, ensure people are not limited in their potential and are given the tools they need to continue to improve their skills. Foster an “always learning” environment to allow your team to become more capable over time. Acknowledge and develop each of their individual strengths to help team members be more passionate and driven.

Delegating is a great way to develop your team. It’s important to think about delegating not just as assigning work, but as a technique for teaching, developing, and building capacity in your organisation.


Ask yourself – Do your employees understand the company strategy and expectations of their role?

How strong is communication in your team? Each team member should know exactly what is expected of them, and how it will be measured. Ideally, they should have input into this process to make them feel acknowledged and recognised. 

They should also know the key points of the company strategy and be kept in the loop about information that is relevant to them and their work. Schedule regular, engaging team meetings and clarify goals and objectives. Be transparent and always practise active listening. 


  • Team Alignment – Do each of your team members know, and are committed to, the purpose, overall vision and core values of the organisation?
  • Psychological Safety – Do your team members feel like they can express themselves without fear?
  • Mastery and Autonomy – Are your team members given opportunities for professional development and ownership of their work?
  • Communication – Do your employees understand the company strategy and expectations of their role?

If you are not able to answer yes to each of the questions above, it is time for self reflection and self development, because good leaders are made not born.

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