If you don’t like your manager, it’s probably not you, and there is a good chance your boss should never have been promoted in the first place.  

According to new research from Gallup, companies promote people who lack some or all of the innate talents necessary to be an effective manager a staggering 82% of the time. Yikes.

But before you start pointing fingers, consider that leaders don’t exactly have an abundance of qualified candidates to choose from.

“Great managers are scarce because the talent required to be one is rare. Gallup’s research shows that about one in 10 people possess high talent to manage,” Amy Adkins writes in a blog post. “Though many people have some of the necessary traits, few have the

unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve the kind of excellence that significantly improves a company’s performance.”

So what are the traits that separate naturally great managers from average or even subpar ones? Gallup pinpointed five “talent dimensions” that help exceptional managers acheive results:

  1. Motivational ability
  2. Assertiveness
  3. Accountability
  4. Relationship building
  5. Decision making

The graphic below offers a more in-depth explanation of each of these dimensions:


Are these traits only limited to innately talented managers? Yes and no. Adkins makes a critical distinction: “Gallup defines talent as the natural capacity for excellence. People can learn skills, develop knowledge, and gain experience, but they can’t acquire talent — it’s innate,” she writes. In addition, high-talent managers achieve this distinction because they naturally possess all of these traits — not just one or two.

However, just because high-talent leaders are the exception to the rule doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find them.

“Ironically, [Gallup’s chief scientist Jim] Harter is convinced that the most highly talented manager prospects are hiding in plain sight within organizations, and the use of some predictive analytics tool can help them make more informed hiring decisions,” Mark C. Crowley writes in a Fast Company article. And organizations “employing these disciplines have realized a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, and 30% jump in engagement scores, the Gallup report notes.”

Besides being effective leaders who drive results, high-talent managers also boast other advantages. For instance, they’re twice as likely as their limited-talent counterparts to be engaged at work, and are also better brand ambassadors.


Do you agree with this research? Why or why not? Managers — does innate talent matter more than skill development? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image credit:  Kumar Appaiah | Flickr
Graphics and article via HubSpot Blogs