10 Qualities of An Effective Supervisor

  | 6 min read
effective supervisor

Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager

You just landed a promotion and you are excited about it. After all, you have worked so hard to get here and seeing your work bearing fruits is everyone’s dream. With this promotion comes the job to supervise a person or a group of people and you are not so sure about your supervisory skills since this is all new to you. Moreover, some of the people you will be supervising are people you have worked with at the same level and you need to keep being their friend as well as being their supervisor. You want to be an effective supervisor, someone who gets the job done and keeps a good and well-motivated team.

While you definitely have the technical skills for the job, as evidenced by your promotion, you need the following additional skills so that you can be an effective supervisor as well.

  1. Emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

An effective supervisor is one who offers leadership, resolves conflicts and provides an ear for their team. This is a person who can recognise their own emotion in a situation, recognise the emotions of others, is empathetic and has top-notch social skills. Emotional intelligence is a critical skill in modern day management where teams are diverse and there is a need for work-life balance.

  1. Learner


As much as you are the leader of the team, there are things that you will not know. A good leader is constantly trying to improve his/her knowledge base and encourages other team members to also learn. In a world where self-learning has been made easy by technology, learning should be constant and an effective leader is one who shares new information with the rest of the team. It is a person who seeks constant self-development and the development of the team. Tragically, studies by CEB Global shows that only 10% of managers are learners.

  1. Approachable

Gone are the days of impenetrable walls surrounding a boss, complete with a secretary who made it hard to access a manager. Modern teams require very close working relationships and as a manager, there is a need to establish a working relationship with your team members so that you can offer leadership and facilitate the achievement of goals.

  1.    Political Authority

Political authority

Office politics are frowned upon but political authority is the ability to rally people towards a similar cause and achieve set goals. Sometimes, you will be given the tough task of convincing your teammates to take on an undesirable task or of implementing an unpopular policy. At this point, you will need the skill to convince your teammates to be receptive to the new idea and this requires good political skills. An effective leader should be able to win others over, especially in difficult situations.

  1.   Good at Delegating

An effective leader ought to be able to delegate a task to a person who has the right skills to handle it. This maximises the team’s talent, nurtures good skills for those who get the work done and ensures that tasks are handled well and in good time. Delegating also shows that you have confidence in your team, which boosts the team’s morale and ability to learn new skills. It also goes without saying that a good leader is able to let people creatively come up with solutions to problems without micromanaging them. Giving people the freedom to find solutions to problems boosts their problem-solving skills, makes them more confident and grows the team’s overall skills. Delegating tasks and responsibilities also frees up your time as a manager and lets you focus on the most important tasks at hand.

  1.  Flexibility

Different situations call for different approaches and it is the mark of a good manager to come up with creative and unique solutions to unique problems. Having the flexibility to come up with fresh tactics to manage each emerging situation allows you to develop good problem-solving skills and gives your team the confidence to trust you to solve emerging problems uniquely.

  1. Gives Clear, Timely and Effective Communication Regularly

Effective communication

Management involves a lot of communication on expectations, company changes, and goals. A team is kept together through constant communication as this ensures that everyone is on the same page and things are done in good time. It is the work of the manager to always keep the team in the loop. It also means that a good manager ought to have good crisis management skills, where any rumours are cleared in good time and effectively. Any problems and fresh issues that might arise are addressed in a timely manner.

  1.  Treats team members as partners

You are the boss and that is well-established. However, subordinates appreciate it when you treat them as partners as well as getting them to play a part in decision-making and drawing up of strategies as opposed to subordinates who merely receive instructions. Team spirit requires that you give your subordinates the chance to take control of their activities and you involve them in departmental activities as well. This shows leadership and enhances collaboration.

  1. Shows no Favouritism

It is human nature to have a favourite, to prefer one person or thing to another. However, this does not augur well with your teammates when you are a supervisor. It divides your team and diminishes your authority. Even if you have a favourite, try to stay neutral. Solve disputes in a neutral way and provide leadership. When your team members trust you to make neutral and well-informed decisions, they will trust you and your decisions.

  1.   A leader is Ethical and Trustworthy

You cannot preach water and drink wine and expect your subordinates to trust and respect you. An effective leader stays on the right course and can be trusted to make the right decision even if it is painful. Remember, your subordinates look up to you and if you are unethical, they lose their respect for you and this erodes your authority.

In conclusion, an effective supervisor is one who offers leadership and brings the team together. It is someone with good communication skills, neutral, trustworthy, flexible and who knows how to delegate effectively. The leader should also be a learner and should treat their subordinates as partners. In a world where teamwork is cherished, a good leader should be able to find unique ways of holding the team together and rallying team members towards a common cause.

What are some of the effective leadership skills you use or have experienced in the course of your career?

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.


  1. Thank you, I will try to follow the above….but i have one major problem in my work….I don’t know how to organise myself very well, i find myself very very disorganised, how can i improve that, I work as a senior secretary to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics and Affairs, i don’t take my minutes well, what do i do to improve minute taking…..please guide me.

    • Hi Margaret,
      We all have our own weakness but it doesn’t keep us from achieving our goals. So whenever we are in a new level off course there is going to be some new responsibilities, occasions where we are going to make tough decisions etc but with time youl adapt and you will even find yourself eying a managerial position so no need to worry, it will work out fine. What you should not do is to shy away when you have been given this chance.


  2. You also need a thick skin as missiles and backbiting will be around you due to human nature. If you have nerves of steel you will survive the political and management storms sure to face you.

    • Hi Mark,
      If you treat those who are under you as partners, and you are also flexible in whatever circumstance then the environment will be conducive for you and the rest who are under you.

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  3. That was very good & informative. I like approach used in analysing each skill. Kindly post more. Congratulations

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  5. As a supervisor in charge of a team of ten, the opportunity has been quite rewarding though with few challenges but after reading this article I hope to inculcate the information here to build capacity and improve on my roles. Thanks alot. ^A.S

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