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The 5 Must-Have Qualities of the Modern Manager

A woman holding a notebook in front of a building.

By: Jacob Morgan, Contributor
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own

As the world of work continues to change so do the qualities and characteristics of the managers who are going to be leading our companies. Work is not the same it used to be, and we are seeing dramatic changes in both behavior and technology not just in our personal lives but in our professional lives. 

This means that just because managers were successful in the past doesn’t mean they will be successful in the future. When it comes to evolving the way we work, managers need to possess five qualities to help their organizations evolve and succeed in the future of work.

Follow From the Front

The future management model is all about removing roadblocks from the paths of employees, helping them succeed. This extends beyond managing people to empowering and engaging people. The traditional idea of management was based on leading by fear and the notion of command and control. Employees used to work hard to allow their managers to succeed and now it’s the manager’s turn to empower their employees to succeed. As I’ve said in the past, employees are the greatest asset any organization has. In the past managers said “jump” and employees said, “how high?” Now managers are jumping with employees.

Understand Technology

This isn’t the same as technical expertise. I’m not saying that it’s important for managers to become IT professionals. However, managers do need to understand the overall technology landscape and how it is impacting the way we work. This means having a good pulse of what is happening in the consumer web. 

Further it means having an understanding which social and collaborative technologies are impacting the enterprise and what the implications are. Managers who have a good understanding of what is happening with technology will always be able to adapt and evolve ahead of the competition.

Lead By Example 

It used to be good enough for Managers to say they supported something. A manager would just need to approve the budget and say, “go for it.” When it comes to collaboration and the future of work that is no longer enough. Managers need to commit to more than just funding collaboration. 

They need to be the ones on the ground level using the same tools that the rest of the employees are using. There is no way that employees can change and evolve (nor should they) unless they see their managers doing the same.

Embrace Vulnerability

This goes hand in hand with being open and transparent. Our organizations were modeled after the military and if there’s one thing that a commander wasn’t, was vulnerable. However, times have changed, and we aren’t running our organizations like the military anymore. We go our whole lives (especially men) learning how to be the opposite of vulnerable and we always have this “shield” up to keep people from seeing us when we are vulnerable. 

Brene Brown author of “Daring Greatly,” says that vulnerability is about having the courage to show up and be seen. According to Brown, “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.” Being vulnerable isn’t about being weak but it’s about being courageous. It’s a key quality that every manager must have going forward.

Belief In Sharing

Traditionally managers sat at the top of the organization and had access to all the information required to make decisions. Managers would dole out the orders and the employees had to execute on those orders without asking any questions. 

Today managers cannot believe in hoarding information but in sharing information and collective intelligence. Managers need to make sure that the employees can connect to each other and to the information they need to get their jobs done. Managers now rely on employees to help make decisions instead of isolating them from this process.



“The best executive is the one who has sense enough
to pick good men to do what he wants done,
and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them
while they do it.”
- Theodore Roosevelt