When you read about the habits and styles of well-known managers, you realize that they don’t all fit the same mold. Some are workaholics with no outside interests, while others live balanced lives by reserving time for family, hobbies, and community service. Some flaunt their wealth by living in mega mansions, while others live so conservatively that they become the invisible millionaires Thomas J. Stanley profiled. Yet despite the variations in personal behavior, when you analyze professional actions you discover several striking similarities. Definitely, masterful managers share four communication traits that help them succeed as leaders.

Denny F. Strigl, a renowned CEO in the telecom industry, said: “I learned early in my career that the worst place to be as a manager was behind my desk.” In fact, Strigl noted, “The best and easiest tools to use in creating an open work environment are the manager’s own two legs.” What’s the impact of venturing from your office and mingling with your staff and employees? Among the numerous advantages, managers instantly “demonstrate they are open to new ideas, want to learn about issues, are eager to find solutions to problems, and are engaged and interested in the people within their organizations.” Additionally, mobile managers illustrate to people on the front lines that they are important and that the boss is interested in their contributions.

Novice managers tend to remain office bound. For one thing, they feel overwhelmed by the paperwork that demands their attention and authorization. Also, they feel comfortable there, as they won’t be challenged while isolated. However, as Strigl and many other outstanding leaders demonstrate, mixing and mingling with the work force strengthens morale and increases productivity.

Informal presentation style
In his formative years as a public servant, Rudy Giuliani prepared his speeches as methodically as he prepared his law cases. He would write drafts, and then share them with his colleagues who would “slave over the exact language.” Eventually, though, he decided that his memorization and careful emphasis held him back. So in a breakthrough moment, as New York City’s mayor he stepped away from the podium when he gave the all-important State of the City speech. Following the advice of a speech coach who told him to “deliver from the heart,” he moved from mechanical to folksy in giving speeches.

Veteran communication coach Roger Ailes observed that the most famous clients he worked with used exactly the same vocal style in speaking to thousands that they would use during lunch with friends.

Open to fresh ideas
Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. gained international respect in the computer industry, not as a dictatorial CEO but as a manager who welcomed good ideas, radical as they might seem, from the grass roots level of his company. While there must be a necessary hierarchy, he practiced bringing “people together for problem solving, regardless of where they are positioned within the organization.”

This approach, of course, would drive a micromanager crazy. Micromanagers insist on “my way or the highway,” as Harry E. Chambers titled his report about supervisors and CEOs who refuse to consider ideas other than their own.

Progressive managers reward employees who stimulate thinking and challenge set procedures.

Ability to use tasteful humor
Picture this scene. The CEO of a large medical center walked into the traditionally somber annual meeting that would set the budget for the next twelve months. Each of the twenty department heads he faced looked nervous, fearing their requests would not be met and they would have to downsize their staff and eliminate ambitious programs. Anticipating the anxiety, the CEO walked around the room with a big smile as he silently distributed a towel to each attendee. He prompted a much-needed outburst of laughter as he explained: “I know when I start responding to your budget pleading, it’s likely that you’ll want to shed a few tears. That’s why I’ve given each of you your personal crying towel. Now that you are all prepared to begin, let’s have David go first by summarizing his departmental proposal.”

In government circles, think back to how President John Kennedy transformed press conferences into jovial sessions, using spontaneous quips to break the tension that surrounded his administration’s critical concerns.

So whether you are a new manager or a veteran manager, increase your visibility, reshape your presentation style until your colleagues forget you are giving a speech, assure every employee you will consider recommendations from every level, and use humor to relieve tension and help people enjoy their job in ways they wouldn’t in a stodgy atmosphere. Make these communication traits your trademarks, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a masterful manager.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., President of Championship Communication, "Helps You Finish in First Place!" As a veteran Communication Consultant and Speech Coach, he has served a top-tier client list, including Gillette, Procter & Gamble, CenturyTel, Ritz-Carlton Cancun, and the British Columbia Legal Management Association. Call him: 678-316-4300 Visit his Web site to sign up for his monthly newsletter: http://www.championshipcommunication.com