Becoming a good manager is no easy task, and being a great one who employees want to follow is even harder. The below four traits are common amongst the greatest leaders that have naturally developed a following:

They care. People want to work for a manager who understands they're human. The best managers show their employees they care about them through their actions. It's about supporting an employee, encouraging them, getting to know them as a person, and not treating them like a number. It seems obvious and elementary, but with deadlines and goals, many managers forget about this crucial component to leadership. Great managers go out of their way to let their people know they're thinking about them or share their appreciation. Whether it's making note of personal milestones like completing a big race or getting married, the best managers know what's going on in their employees' lives and acknowledge it. 

They help their employees get promoted. The goal of every manager should be to get their employees promoted just as the goal of every employee is to make their manager's life easier. This doesn't mean playing favorites or promoting someone for the sake of promoting them. It's a manager helping their employees develop and take on more, so they earn a promotion. Key word being earn. This means working with employees individually to develop a plan to hit stretch goals, or work on mastering a new skill necessary to grow in the role. 

They retain the good players and get rid of the bad. The best managers know their people well. They know each employee's individual motivators, their goals, their interests, so they can best cater to their individual strengths, which ultimately helps retain talent. If they feel successful in the role and feel as though their manager has their best interest at heart, they'll want to stay. They take time to make sure good players have what they need to succeed and are engaged. They also identify who is pulling the team down. They take note of when someone starts to have a negative impact, or someone who is affecting the team in a way that isn't productive, and they make necessary moves to fix the situation. They protect their team and their good employees by getting rid of the bad ones. 

They are self-aware. They have a pulse on how they are viewed and are able to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses. They know how to listen without interrupting and lead by example rather than directing. They reflect on issues or problems that arose during the day and how their actions may or may not have played a part. Self-aware managers show their staff they are thoughtful and purposeful through actions.  

Whether a seasoned manager or a newly promoted one, reflect on what characteristics you can cultivate to become better in 2019. 

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Published on: Feb 14, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.