New research from specialist recruitment consultancy REED shows British workers want to be led by a manager who combines the management styles of Barack Obama, Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey.

Most desired management skills

The research, conducted by YouGov to launch the hunt for the Manager of the Year 2014 – the search for the nation’s best managers, powered by REED – asked more than 2,500 UK workers about the ideal characteristics a manager should have. It found that the most important characteristic for a manager is good communication skills, with 21% of workers choosing this as their top requirement. Just under one in five (19%) viewed strong leadership as vital, and 14% thought fairness is the characteristic that should take precedence.

The top ten management characteristics in full are:

  1. Communication skills (21%)
  2. Strong leadership (19%)
  3. Fairness (14%)
  4. Integrity (11%)
  5. Professionalism (11%)
  6. Calmness under pressure (5%)
  7. Sense of humour (4%)
  8. Team-orientation (4%)
  9. Compassion (3%)Encouragement (3%)

Celebrity management styles

When asked to link these top management characteristics to a selection of famous individuals, Barack Obama and Richard Branson were most frequently chosen as exhibiting these traits with Barack Obama coming top in five categories, and Richard Branson being the most frequently chosen of those listed in four categories.

Looking at the results further, British workers’ ideal manager could combine the good communication skills (22%) and calmness under pressure (36%) of Barack Obama; the integrity (19%) and encouragement (15%) of Richard Branson; and the compassion (25%) of Oprah Winfrey. Jamie Oliver was also highlighted for his sense of humour, coming a close second in this category with 18% of votes, while Jose Mourinho was picked by 15% of workers as being the most team-orientated.

Dream manager from fact or fiction

When given a completely free choice on which famous person, living or dead, or fictional character workers would like as their manager, Richard Branson was again highly regarded, followed by Winston Churchill, then Stephen Fry. Some perhaps less obvious characters were also surprisingly popular, including Captain Picard from Star Trek, Dr Who, Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter and even David Brent from The Office.

Tom Lovell, group managing director at REED, commented: “Our research shows that a combination of qualities is important in a manger, but that communication skills are the most valued. This is perhaps because it is only through communicating properly and clearly with employees that they know what’s expected of them and vitally, when the work they do is being recognised.

“Being managed in the right way can bring out the best in people. It can make all the difference as to whether they love or hate their job which, in turn, can influence their productivity levels and overall business success. So, we understand that the best and brightest managers can be hugely instrumental in the performance of an organisation, and are calling on workers to nominate their boss for Manager of the Year 2014.”

Now in its third year, Manager of the Year, powered by REED, is a UK-wide search that aims to recognise and reward the nation’s top managers. If your manager is a cut above the rest, big-up your boss by visiting and nominate them for the chance to win up to £1,000 to spend on their team.