Softer Leadership Qualities for Better Staff Management

August 25, 2021 | 417 views

Softer Leadership Qualities for Better Staff Management
Softer Leadership Qualities for Better Staff Management

Occasionally, it strikes me how leading and coaching employees and others is a particularly heavy responsibility. Whether I’m working with a child’s athletic team or developing my own staff, every word and action becomes a model for others. Staff management sometimes feels no different than parenting my kids on how to succeed. What I’ve discovered is that experience is respected, but that softer qualities make good leaders and model appropriate behavior expectations for staff.

Clear Values

Good leaders do the right thing for the business’s health without compromising key values like integrity and honesty. From internal policy development to hiring, leaders provide a model of ethics for employees and direct reports. Employees recognize when managers sacrifice easy money to do the right thing. If you want your staff to be conscientious, then you must also be the type of person you hope to develop in your staff.

Open Ears

An open-door policy is so cliché that it’s meaningless without the ability to hear what people say. When someone takes a bold step and shares an idea or concern, actively listening is the only way to respond appropriately. A staff scheduling conflict, for example, might have a simple solution, but working collaboratively with an employee demonstrates that you understand the concern, clarify the need, restate ideas, and respond with complete understanding. Listening to staff from all different levels shows consideration, respect, and a willingness to improve. Employees become better advocates when a leader can listen, plus a manager develops greater empathy.


Managers must make appropriate judgments outside of rules and policies. When situations arise, good leaders navigate with innovative problem-solving skills. They collaborate with employees to find solutions that work without sacrificing integrity. Most of life operates in the gray area between black-and-white rules. When a manager can deftly steer staff toward careful decision-making, those employees see a manager lead by thoughtful example.

Desire to Improve

Some of the best managers I’ve ever had were those who continually recognized that there is always more to learn. Demonstrating skills is helpful, of course, but it is especially good leadership to demonstrate a willingness to develop better ways to manage staff and operations. A manager who models education encourages staff to explore expanded learning options, too.

Communication Skills

I cringe a bit as I write this need—not because it isn’t important (it is), but because it will still be an issue in nearly every organization in one way or another. Still, good leaders are better at it, value its importance, and actively strive to keep good communication flowing. For staff managers, communicating well shows itself when they work well with everyone while retaining accuracy and sensitivity. Even if not perfect, employees will feel supported and guided through myriad situations.

Telescopic View

Good leaders envision the future of the company and each employee’s role. Employees will immediately recognize a manager who is simply biding time in the job. Without a vision from a leader, employees lose hope for career development and know that their contributions are not recognized as valuable for company growth and won’t get them anywhere.

Leading an organization means that you need followers—those who trust your guidance. This is improved when you have the technical talent and softer skills that demonstrate integrity, value employees, and develop a future for an appreciative team. 

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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