How to Be a Good Manager: Tips from the Books and Real Life

During the course of my career as a library science graduate student, I learned that it is critical for librarians to have strong interpersonal skills, such as how to be a successful manager. Last semester I was fortunate enough to learn many critical tips on what it takes to be a good manager from reading my textbook and listening to my professor in my Management Communication for Leaders class. To demonstrate how accurate this example was, I have made a list of eight “do’s” (from my textbook) and have created some “don’ts” based on these rules on good management to act as a contrast.

1. Do: A good leader communicates effectively. This communication depends on the use of charisma and projecting a positive image (Barrett, 2014, pp. 5, 9-10).

Don’t: Forget to tell employees things or assume that they will know them. Do not take your bad mood out on employees or treat them with anything less than kindness and respect.

2. Do: Be positive, sincere and have integrity when communicating with people. Competence, consistency, openness and loyalty are also very important (Barrett, 2014, p. 14).

Don’t: Downplay your or others’ efforts or result to manipulation. Do not hide problems your library may be undergoing or do things that your employees would consider a betrayal. Do not act lazy or otherwise incompetent.

3. Do: Focus on the end results which will affect the parties involved (Barrett, 2014, p. 18).

Don’t: Make snap decisions based on little or no data, or make choices which have not fully been thought through.

4. Do: Communicate to others in language that is “clear and crisp… yet not too harsh or brusque” (Barrett, 2014, p. 57).

Don’t: Intimidate employees or make them feel uncomfortable. Do not make your communications vague.

5. Do: Develop emotional intelligence, which is the “ability to be aware of, understand and express yourself; be aware of, understand, and relate to others; deal with strong emotions and control your impulses; adapt to change and solve problems of a personal and social nature” (Barrett, 2014, p. 201).

Don’t: Lose control of your emotions or despair of trying to work with and empathize with others. Do not bring your personal problems to work.

6. Do: Develop good listening skills (Barrett, 2014, p. 215).

Don’t: Pay no or only limited attention to employees’ verbal and nonverbal messages (Barrett, 2014, p. 215).

7. Do: Be open and respectful of different cultures (Barrett, 2014, p. 239).

Don’t: Assume that employees’ religious needs or cultural viewpoints are trivial (Barrett, 2014, p. 239).

8. Do: Develop mentoring and coaching abilities to assist struggling employees, especially in times of turnover (Barrett, 2014, p. 347).

Don’t: Assume that all of your employees are doing fine without solid evidence of the fact.

Many of these tips may seem so obvious that they are hardly worth mentioning. However, the fact that my professor believed that they were relevant enough for us to spend so much of our semester on them is an indication that there are probably people out there who really do need to hear this advice. By reading the don’ts, one can only imagine what would happen if librarians, especially those in managerial or leadership positions, violated all or even one of these good management rules. At best, other librarians or employees would feel disconnected from their supervisors or the library. At worst, these coworkers would decide to find a different place to work.

By reading this article, you will probably be able to point out to yourself the ways in which your leadership and managerial style makes you a success in addition to the ways in which it may need just a little more work. I also have the additional satisfaction of knowing that by attending USC’s MMLIS program and working hard in my Management Communication for Leaders class I have also greatly improved my own leadership and managerial style.


rachel pictureRachel Friedman was born in Woodland Hills, California and resides in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor of Arts in History; her specialty was Ancient and Medieval History. She attended Pepperdine Law School for a year before deciding that she would prefer a career in library science. She applied and was accepted to USC’s MMLIS program. This is her second semester.



Barrett, D. J. (2014). Leadership Communication (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.


Cover photo from Flickr Commons. Licensed under CC 2.0.

1 reply

  1. You are right, most of these tips for managers seem like they should be common sense, and they are. However, they are still things that managers shouldn’t forget and most of them are things you have to work to improve. Not many people are naturally perfect listeners. So, the only thing I think is missing from your list is that a manager should be actively trying to get better. This can be anything from asking employees what they need to work on to taking some kind of management course.


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