Good Managers vs Bad Managers

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Good Managers vs Bad Managers: Which one are you?

As you near the end of your post graduate study program, and get ready to graduate with your degree in business management; you’ll undoubtedly be wondering what you might do – someday – when you have to manage your own team of employees.

What kind of a manager will you be? Will your team members enjoy working with you? Or will you ultimately fail to provide them the leadership they seek?

Will you be a good manager, or a bad one?


Just as on campus you come across a multitude of teachers, lecturers and professors, so too a workforce comprises of different types of leaders, bosses and managers. Here’s what separates the good from the bad:

The Good

A good manager usually has the following traits:

  • Managing, as opposed to doing – Good managers prefer to get the job done by encouraging the team to perform, as opposed to sidelining the team to get things done themselves
  • Doing, when called upon – In some cases, good managers won’t hesitate to roll up their sleeves and pitch in, for instance when short-staffed or meeting a tight deadline
  • Teaching, coaching – When your boss offers to show you the ropes and shares his/her experience with you, you know he/she is one the ‘good ones’!
  • Motivating, leading – Instead of barking orders from behind a glass room, good managers work with teams to ensure they understand why they what they do, and that they do what’s right/best for the organisation
  • Listening, understanding – Good managers tend to listen to what their team has to say about how things are done, and will take that feedback into consideration when providing direction

Managing is part art and part science; and good managers have both aspects of the discipline down pat. They’ll inspire, discipline, respect, coach, reprimand, acknowledge, encourage and reward the team in measured tones. A lot of these traits come from experience, but much of it can be learned too, through reputable business management studies.

The Bad

It’s safe to say that a manager that doesn’t exhibit all of the above traits is a ‘bad manager’. But there’s more:

  • Micromanaging – Bad managers often like to oversee every step of your job, down to how you staple documents, write your emails or answer the phone!
  • Egotistical – One hall mark of a terrible manager is that he/she will often have a mean streak, always stoking their own ego and running the team down
  • Selfish – Team accomplishments are often the result of team work; but ‘bad’ managers have the tendency to own all the successes, but are quick to blame failures on the team
  • Disrespectful – If you are a manager, one way to ensure your team hates you and will do everything possible to undermine your authority, is to treat them with disrespect. Bad managers are disrespectful of their team
  • Decree oriented – Bad managers ‘yell and tell’ – often issuing edicts to the team, without seeking team inputs

A poorly managed team is often demoralised, dejected, depressed and disorganised. Since they lack the leadership needed to achieve success, badly managed teams will miss deadlines, deliver shoddy performance or just outright fail in everything they do.


To be a good manager, even if you have never managed teams before, you must first realise that: The manager can’t do it all. He/she is not the mister or miss ‘know it all’. It takes team work to accomplish success in the work place, and that’s what you, as a good manager, should aspire towards.

Collaboration, Consultation and Cooperation are the hallmarks of a good manager. Do your best to cultivate these traits and you’ll easily fit into the ranks of the ‘good ones’!


While part of what it takes to be a good manager will inherently come from your personality, a lot of it can be learned. Broad based management programs, such as a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), are geared towards doing just that – teaching students how to be great managers.

Because of their intense focus on real-life situations, programs such as the Kaplan MBA help student’s master crucial practical leadership, business and people management skills that they can leverage in the real business world.