What Makes a GREAT Manager? Qualities That Set the Best Apart

Being promoted to a management position is often seen as a mark of success in the workplace. However, not all great employees make great managers. So, what makes a great manager? According to Julie Zhuo, ex-VP of Facebook and author of “The Making of a Manager,” it’s not an inherent quality but a set of learned skills and behaviors. In this article, we’ll delve into the three universal qualities all great managers possess, as shared by Zhuo herself.

Quality #1: Great Managers Build Trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and this is especially true in the workplace. Employees who trust their managers are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal to the company. So, what do great managers do to build trust?

First, they show vulnerability. This means admitting when they don’t know something, being open to feedback and criticism, and owning up to mistakes. By doing so, they create a safe space for their team to do the same.

Second, they give specific recognition, advice, and feedback. Instead of generic praise or criticism, great managers highlight the specific actions or behaviors that their employees excelled at or need to improve upon. This shows that they are paying attention and care about their team’s growth.

Third, they come prepared to one-on-one meetings. These meetings are an opportunity for managers to check in with their employees, provide guidance and support, and help them develop their skills. By showing up fully prepared and focused, great managers demonstrate that they value their team’s time and prioritize their growth.

Quality #2: Great Managers Give Great Feedback

Feedback is essential for personal and professional growth, but not all feedback is created equal. According to Zhuo, great feedback should inspire change and action. To achieve this, great managers do the following:

First, they set clear expectations from the beginning. Employees need to know what success looks like and how their performance will be measured. This helps them stay motivated and focused on their goals.

Second, they make their feedback as specific as possible. Rather than general comments, great managers give examples of specific behaviors or actions that were effective or need improvement. This makes it easier for employees to understand what they need to do differently.

Third, they frame feedback as a growth opportunity, not a criticism. Great managers help their employees see the potential benefits of changing their behavior, and support them in the process.

Quality #3: Great Managers Prioritize Growth

Finally, great managers prioritize growth, both for their team and for themselves. They recognize that the workplace is constantly changing, and that continuous learning and improvement are essential for success. Here’s what they do:

First, they create a culture of growth. This means encouraging their team to take on new challenges, providing opportunities for skill-building and development, and recognizing and rewarding growth.

Second, they lead by example. Great managers demonstrate a growth mindset themselves, and actively seek out opportunities to learn and improve.

Third, they invest in their team’s growth. This includes providing feedback and support, offering training and development opportunities, and helping their employees set and achieve career goals.


Becoming a great manager is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible either. By focusing on building trust, giving great feedback, and prioritizing growth, you can develop the skills and behaviors necessary to become an effective and inspiring leader. Whether you’re a new manager or an experienced one, there is always room for growth and improvement.

One of the key components of becoming a great manager is being able to communicate effectively with your team. This means not only giving feedback but also actively listening to your employees and understanding their needs and concerns. A great manager is also able to recognize and acknowledge their team’s achievements and successes, and provide opportunities for growth and development.

Another important trait of a great manager is the ability to be adaptable and flexible. The business world is constantly changing, and being able to pivot and adjust to new circumstances is crucial for success. A great manager is able to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to problems.

Finally, a great manager is someone who leads by example. They embody the values and behaviors they want their team to exhibit and are willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their employees. This creates a sense of camaraderie and fosters a collaborative and supportive work environment.

Becoming a great manager takes time, effort, and a willingness to learn and grow. By focusing on building trust, giving great feedback, prioritizing growth, communicating effectively, being adaptable, and leading by example, you can develop the skills and behaviors necessary to become an effective and inspiring leader. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to build a strong and successful team and achieve your business goals.