The 3 qualities that make someone management material

A tech executive spells out the three qualities they look for when deciding whether to promote or hire for management roles

Kate Mulcrone

By Kate Mulcrone

two women sit at a table and take notes

As the Great Resignation – or Great Reshuffling, as some are choosing to call it – wages on, companies are looking for new ways to identify and retain top talent. In many cases, a team is defined by its manager. But what makes someone management material?

A strong manager leads with empathy and gets into the weeds with their team if necessary, while a weak one is more focused on optics and making their problems someone else’s headache to cure. But whether you’re hiring from outside or promoting from within, it can be hard to predict how candidates will handle the pressure of management.

two women sit at a table and discuss an issue

With hybrid and remote work becoming the norm in the white-collar world, it is now more difficult than ever before for company leaders to fill leadership gaps.

In our latest look at how Covid-19 has reshaped the workplace, we’re exploring what qualities make someone management material – whether or not they have managed teams before.

In a fascinating article in Fast Company, Bob Marsh, Chief Revenue Officer at Bluewater Technologies, lays out three key questions to consider when deciding if someone is management material. Marsh draws on decades of managing sales teams and his experience as the founder and CEO of LevelEleven, a SaaS-based sales management system, to identify the common elements that make an employee an excellent manager. (Of course, you can also use Marsh’s rubric to decide if you yourself want to be a manager!)

Here are three key qualities that successful team leaders share:

1. A desire to help others succeed

Marsh is quick to point out that the ladder of success is more about climbing with your colleagues than climbing over them: “Leading executives got to where they are not only because of their contributions, but also because of their ability to make others successful.”

The best managers have the patience to help the stragglers on their team – and to attend to administrative tasks with the same dedication they save for the more glamorous aspects of the job.

“I spent a decade as a salesperson, but moved into management because I wanted to run my own company someday. To do so, I had to learn how to effectively lead and manage people. There were some tasks and responsibilities I didn’t particularly enjoy, but I was willing to do what it took to be a manager because I had a long-term objective.”

Unfortunately, many workers who want to move up to management are motivated by prestige or material gain rather than the desire to grow their leadership abilities:

“More than 60% of Millennial managers surveyed [in a Harris poll commissioned by Zapier] said they only became supervisors for the salary or corporate advancement. They weren’t motivated by things such as coaching and energizing a team, improving processes, or getting pulled in as a “secret weapon” when client situations get complicated.”

2. Success in their current role

When evaluating internal candidates for a leadership role, their current track record is a key indicator of future success.

“Employees who don’t hit or exceed their goals aren’t prepared to move up. If company leaders and your peers don’t see you as someone who’s successful now, it’s difficult to move into a position of authority. Have you proven you’re successful at your current job with clear, measured, and sustained positive results?”

When comparing candidates, think about how they are perceived by their peers as well as whether or not they are in the CEO’s inner circle. A successful leader will take the time for 360-degree engagement, rather than just focusing on how the people above them in the corporate hierarchy feel about their work.

It can be harder to identify this type of success in outside candidates, so leave extra time to ask them about ways they have measured their success in their current and previous roles.

four people sitting at communal tables discussing a work-related matter

3. A desire to build relationships

Some of the best managers have the uncanny ability to get team members to “come out of their shell” even where others have failed for years. But this isn’t magic, it’s simply helping others shine.

“When I was a salesperson with managerial aspirations, I didn’t concentrate all my efforts on my sales peers. I was curious about other functions and sought out team members across all disciplines. I asked questions about their work and tried to understand their perspective and what I could do with my clients to make their jobs easier.”

When deciding who to hire or promote as manager, look for the helpers:

“You can’t hide in your own world if you’re seeking a career in management. Good managers want to move the needle for the company, not just themselves. If you show that you genuinely want to help people in the organization, your team will trust you more. That sincerity and humility will pay off when you finally get your shot at leadership.”

Bottom line, it’s a combination of qualites that make someone management material. Any of these three characteristics can be developed so that your team member has the potential for success in a management role.

At Blueground, we prioritize exploration above all! We want our guests to not only feel at home in a new city right away, but be able to be as productive as ever while working remotely. Our comfortable furnished apartments around the world are ideal places to live and work. Each individually designed home has everything our guests need to live well and be productive.

Are you working on accommodating your hybrid workforce or boosting your mobility program? Our Blueground for Business team is ready to help you find the perfect corporate housing placements for your team.

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone has more than 10 years’ experience writing about travel, tech, and the workplace for a variety of publications.