10 Qualities of Successful General Managers

General managers play an important role within an organization. Whereas a manager is typically responsible for one department, the general manager typically leads the strategic planning and direction of a company. It’s a critical role and one that requires a person with exceptional qualities. Here are ten of the qualities that all successful general managers share:

1. Optimism: A positive attitude is infectious in the same way that negativity can be contagious. Approaching each day, each employee, each challenge, and each project with optimism communicates a sense of confidence and dependability. Genuine optimism boosts morale and naturally leads to happier employees, increased productivity, lower turnover rates, a better product, and more satisfied customers.

2. Creativity: It is the indefinable quality of successful general managers and the spark that ignites their employees to do great things. Approaching business challenges in new and creative ways can lead to unimagined results that propel the company forward.

3. Conflict-resolution skills: As important as it is for general managers to be seen as part of the team, employees also look to them to resolve disputes quickly and fairly. An effective general manager can spot conflicts before they get out of hand and have the ability to resolve unforeseen conflicts as they arise.

4. Curiosity: Having a natural curiosity is another important quality of successful general managers. In addition to acquiring as much knowledge as possible about their industry and products/services, they ask their employees a lot of questions to see what makes them tick and how they can be better managers.

5. Action-oriented: Successful general managers think and react quickly to situations in the workplace. Being flexible and inclusive in decision-making demonstrates a respect for all opinions and decisive action inspires employees to get behind the desired goal.

6. Ability to remain calm: General managers face many different challenges and decisions on a daily basis. One of the fastest ways to lose the confidence and respect of employees is to have a quick temper and to make rash decisions without having all of the facts. Subordinates need to believe their leader has a plan-even in the direst of circumstances.

7. Ability to coach: The most successful general managers are also good coaches. They recognize and reinforce the talents of employees and, at the same time, observe areas of improvement which can be addressed in both informal and formal coaching sessions.

8. Listening skills: The importance of truly listening to employees is often overlooked. Being a good listener means taking the time to give employees their full attention, communicating their understanding of the situation and/or their needs, offering a possible solution, and encouraging continuous feedback.

9. Communication skills: Successful general managers have to wear many hats and effectively communicate with people in all areas of the organization, from their direct subordinates and bosses to front-line employees and clients.

10. Sense of humor: You can’t underestimate the importance of levity in the workplace. A good boss who is able to joke around with employees and generally create a fun atmosphere will help reduce stress, improve morale, and boost productivity.