The Essential Qualities of a Senior Manager: 10 Point Guide

Whether it’s now or in the future, you and your business may find yourself in need of new members of senior management. For example, you may need to recruit a new Senior Project Manager or Senior Operations Manager. These positions are of course highly important, and the individuals involved with these roles carry a lot of responsibility for themselves and the company. As such, it’s important that you're hiring people with the right qualities and the right mind-set to succeed and thrive in the management team of your business.

Here we will outline 10 qualities to look out for in your management candidates.

1 - People Skills

senior manager

Ultimately, managerial roles involve interacting with and managing with a lot of people, both inside and outside of your company. High-level managers are often responsible for dealing with a number of highly important individuals, including colleagues, board members, and shareholders. Because of this, it’s essential that your management team have a high level of people skills. This not only includes communication skills, but also relatability and understanding. Successful people managers are able to not only manage and lead, but create dialogues with and understand their colleagues, as well as those outside of the business such as clients and partners.

This human quality allows strong, meaningful, and dependable relationships to form, which are often beneficial in the long run. These people skills not only help to build trust and confidence within the team, but also help when communicating and negotiating with clients and customers. In addition, in relation to people skills, it’s often worth considering the candidate’s existing network of contacts.

It’s always useful to have strong connections within the industry, and by bringing in individuals with a large, healthy network, you can use this to expand your businesses connections and reach. This also demonstrates your candidates networking and socialising ability.

2 - Leadership & Inspirational Ability

Your management team should be careful not to fall into the trap of focusing too much on managing and neglecting their duty of leading. An ideal Senior Manager is an individual who can inspire not only those that they manage, but also their management colleagues and other senior members of staff. By hiring managers with natural inspirational and leadership ability, other business members can benefit from this. As a result you may see a positive change in how your teams function, and how staff work together.

During the recruitment stage, leadership and inspirational ability can be identified in two ways; experience managing and leading teams to success, and charisma along with personality. Ideally, your candidates will have proof of strong experience leading preferably large teams of people in projects, and achieving strong results.

Encourage candidates to talk about their experience doing this, providing details of what results they achieved, how they achieved this, and why their leadership was significant.

Inspirational ability generally stems from an individual’s general charisma, people skills, and confidence. You can get a good gauge of this during the interview process, especially through using role-playing exercises. However you may also wish to encourage candidates to give examples of times that they believe their motivation and outlook inspired their team to achieve results.

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 3 - Confidence & Decision-Making Ability

Two features of an ideal senior management candidate that go hand-in-hand are confidence and the ability to make solid, reasonable decisions. Quality Senior Managers tend to be confident in themselves and their decisions, and they certainly aren’t afraid to put their foot down and assert themselves when a decision needs to be made. Don't you want your management team to be the same?

It’s likely that when a business-critical decision has to be made, the last thing you’ll want is indecisive management staff, arguments, and disagreement. You can help to avoid this by ensuring you employ managers who can not only confidently make critical decisions, but do so in a timely manner and provide solid reasoning and justification based on their previous experience. This is also why it’s so important to recruit individuals with strong management experience in your industry. They're more likely to be able to make the best, most informed decision in situations such as this.

Quality, effective managers and team leaders should have the confidence to deliver both positive and negative feedback to colleagues inside the company as well as those outside such as clients and board members. Delivering negative feedback and criticism is notoriously difficult even for senior staff, so you want to make sure you recruit a strong individual who can accomplish this with tact.

Your manager should be able to effectively distribute criticism and keep workers on track in a way that is stern but understanding.

4 - Strong Knowledge of Industry

senior project manager

When looking for the perfect senior project manager or Senior Operations Managers for your business, it’s absolutely vital that you consider candidates industry knowledge and experience. Yes, it can be tempting to immediately focus your attention on the candidate with a strong management track record, but how transferable is this if they don’t have strong experience in your sector? If for example you own a civil engineering business, is it really the best idea to hire an experienced senior project manager from outside of that industry? Knowledge of the market and the detailed ins-and-outs of your industry is essential to good decision making and business growth.

If you're looking to nurture your candidate to eventually run your business, you’ll want to be confident in their knowledge of the market and competitors. With this they can successfully drive your business forward in your stead, making informed decisions and constantly keeping up to date with market trends and rival companies’ status.

5 – Reliability

This should be top priority when recruiting for senior management positions; before anything else, the one quality that stands out before anything else is reliability.

Without a team of individuals who are consistent, reliable, and trustworthy, your business output and productivity could suffer majorly. Take notes of candidates achievements and statistics, ask yourself if there is consistency in their performance and accomplishments. You should also consider additional factors such as their business history (i.e. how long they tend to stay in positions / businesses), as well as their personality in interviews. This can also be measured through the use of personality tests during the shortlisting and interview phases of your search. These can provide you with detailed insight into the type of worker the individual is, how they work best, who they work best with, etc.

6 – Communicative Expertise

One of the key features of a successful Senior Manager is the ability to clearly and effectively communicate their ideas and leadership with other business members. It’s important that information is passed through your business efficiently and with as little confusion as possible. This allows your team members to be on the same page and therefore work together more effectively. More often than not you can form a good idea of a candidate’s communicative expertise fairly easily during the interview phase. To assist this, it’s often best to hold more than one interview, perhaps considering one informal talk and one more formal interview, which allows you to form a better idea of their abilities and personality than one single interview might.

However, a candidate’s communicative expertise doesn’t just include spoken conversation, ideal managers should also have a good level of written and online communication skills.

This can be vitally important especially regarding formal and official matters, and when representing your business and upholding its reputation.

7 – Ambitious

senior operations manager

Recruiting senior management candidates with drive and ambition is incredibly important for business development. Ideal senior level managers are willing and able to motivate themselves, set themselves ambitious but achievable targets, and strive to reach them. Regarding ambition, the key to success lies in achieving the right balance. Successful managers have enough drive to keep growing and meeting new targets both individually and as a business. However, too much ambition can lead to false expectations and disappointment. During the interview stage, you can ask candidates to provide you with examples of previous targets they’ve set for themselves or for their business, and whether/how they achieved them. This will give you insight into the type of goals your candidate sets for themselves and their methods of working to produce results.

8 – Understanding & Flexible

In addition to being a confident, assertive leader and team manager, your individual should also be understanding with other workers, and display aspects of flexibility where possible. This is important in maintaining team and company morale, as managers who are understanding of the needs of their team are usually more popular with workers. They are therefore likely to have more influence, and can more easily motivate their colleagues.

It’s important that your managers demonstrate flexibility in certain aspects of the business. This allows your workers a certain element of freedom, which can go a long way to improve attitude and morale amongst your team. Flexibility can be achieved in a number of ways, whether it be work hours, deadlines, or general work methods and processes. A little flexibility can go a long way.

Flexibility can also help to prevent micromanagement, which is often very unpopular amongst workers and can actually lower engagement in the workplace. Ideally, your managers should want to keep engaging employees in the workplace.

 9 – Organised & Up to Date

Of course, your ideal individual would not just be in charge of managing others, but also themselves and other aspects of the business. For this reason, it’s important that in addition to people management skills, your candidate also displays strong organisational skills.

If you're hiring a Senior Manager with the vision of exiting your business, you’ll definitely want to make sure they are totally comfortable and capable in the management of finances, accounts, capital, etc. It’s good to ensure candidates have proven experience in this area when recruiting. Poor asset management can lead to disaster, and your individual needs to be highly reliable in the absence of you or other senior team members.

10 – Open to Collaboration, Team Player

operations senior manager

Last but certainly not least, in addition to being a solid, independent leader, quality managers are also open-minded team players. The ability to take other workers’ input into consideration and form decisions around this is valuable in business. Your hire should have no qualms about working as part of a team when needed in addition to leading teams. This will help with staff development training as the new manager fits into the team, as well as help to bridge the management gap.

Your hire should also be able to efficiently collaborate and work alongside individuals outside of your team, for example clients, shareholders, and board members. This is very important for maintaining company image and strengthening business relationships in order to nurture business development.

An ideal leader should be capable of reliably representing your business and keeping shareholders and board members happy, whilst also possessing the integrity to uphold your company’s vision.

Find your Ideal Candidate

Hiring a Senior Manager with the view of them eventually taking over your business is a large task, so of course you’re going to want to make sure you hire the perfect individual for the job. By taking these 10 qualities into account during the searching and recruitment process, you can help narrow down your potential candidates and target the people who are best suited to take your business forward in the future.

There is of course a multitude of additional qualities and features that make an ideal manager, here we have listed just a few of the core things to consider when making a potentially huge decision.

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