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What do you think is the most important leadership trait a manager should possess?

Every manager has that something special that makes them most effective as a manager of people and a leader in an industry. When a manager can identify their strengths, they can use that to effectively inspire employees and create an environment where leadership skills are identified and honed.

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Valued leadership traits vary from communication skills and integrity to vision and respect--just to name a few. These leadership traits provide an integral foundation for managers who are committed to quality service to customers, and have the ability to spark innovation and achieve results, foster skills, encourage others and build relationships. Possessing valued leadership traits benefit a company's work environment, productivity and the bottom line. As the telco industry embraces growth and change, managers play a prominent leadership role in ensuring their employees are engaged, educated and embrace the vision. They also ensure that companies remain vibrant community partners that help lead the way into the future.

Communication skills are vital to helping leaders achieve results with others. Through listening and speaking, a manager can demonstrate respect, translate the vision of the company into action, and establish and maintain positive work relationships. Janet Bathurst, general manager at S & A Telephone Co. (Allen, Kan.) and Oregon Farmers Mutual Telephone Co. (Oregon, Mo.), places approachability as an important leadership trait for any manager. "Your team and community need to be comfortable coming to you and communicating with you," said Bathurst. Although challenges may arise when maintaining sought-out traits like approachability, she said that being aware of those challenges is half the battle. "This is hard to maintain when you are out of the office quite a bit and handling multiple projects. It's especially difficult as you move up through the ranks and you change from being a co-worker to the boss."

For Assistant Manager Debra Lucht of Minburn Telephone Co. (Minburn, Iowa), the ability to communicate at every level within the organization is a highly esteemed skill. Effective communication develops and nourishes good human relationships vital to the success of the business. "It develops a relationship of trust and respect that enables you to get the best from your team," she said.

Kathy L. Duggan, assistant general manager at XIT Communications (Dalhart, Texas), considers integrity the most important leadership trait that any manager should possess. "Our character is grounded in integrity. A manager must be honest, credible and trustworthy," stated Duggan. For critical moments of indecision, temptation and conflict, she noted that integrity enables sound decision making and helps to create good interpersonal relationships with employees and is crucial in strong team building. "A manager with integrity gains the respect of his/her employees, which helps create a culture of partnership and teamwork. Without integrity, no manager can be truly successful," said Duggan.

Jeremy Graves, marketing/sales at the chief operating office of Valley TeleCom Group (Willcox, Ariz.), believes a leader should be enthusiastic about working toward a goal and their role as a leader. "People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication," said Graves, adding that a well-balanced leader should inspire, motivate and also serve as a team player by working toward the common goal. "Although the responsibilities and roles of a leader may be different, leaders need to not be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty," Graves noted.

By Jonah Arellano, Communications Assistant
COPYRIGHT 2007 National Telephone Cooperative Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:FIRSTPerson
Author:Arellano, Jonah
Publication:Rural Telecommunications
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:566
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