Being a Managing Director typically means you’re a cut above the rest. Congrats. That being said, being an MD isn’t always the same as being a good MD. And being a good MD can make a world of difference, both for the company and for your own bank account. 

While being a “good” MD might depend on your outlook of “good,” there are certain characteristics and traits that separate the best from the rest.

Here, we’ll go over the top traits and characteristics that make for the most effective MDs. While winning business is obviously the key feature of being an MD, the best tend to focus on a bit more. The below traits can help serve as a benchmark for ways to find more success, or even to spot red flags with an MD at your company.


Knowledge and Experience

They say nothing beats experience, and that’s certainly true when it comes to being an effective MD. While this seems obvious, some MDs occasionally manage to fall (or, let’s be honest, fail) upward into positions they aren’t quite built for. If you work with an MD that constantly seems to miss the basics, seems to not know potential PE buyers, or, god forbid, not even know strategic players, the alarm bells should be ringing. An MD that lacks these fundamental traits is almost certainly leaving money on the table for everyone involved.


Career Bankers

Piggybacking off knowledge and experience, the best MDs almost always tend to be people that started as analysts and worked their way up to MD status. Outside of the obvious skill development, MDs that grow up in banking understand what it is like to be a junior banker and what it is they do.

That being said, the best MDs not only understand what junior bankers go through, they appreciate how tough it can be. Don’t be the toxic MD that feels like just because you had it rough, everyone else should just shut up and tough it out. Even if that’s the reality of the position, a little appreciation goes a long way.


Leadership and Respect

Listing leadership skills as a key trait might seem cliche, and honestly, it is. But, that’s because the best MDs are often great leaders. Building a reputation for good leadership not only means you can get the most out of your juniors, but it will also bring the best juniors to you.

While you don’t need to throw your team a parade or go full participation trophy mom for every little thing, acknowledgment builds respect. Acknowledge when someone is doing a good job and show that you’re grateful for what they’re doing, even (and especially) the grunt work.


Honesty and Timely Feedback 

You know what’s the f’ing worst? When you spend a ton of time and effort on something, get repeated approvals, and then at the end of the whole thing get a negative review based on things that could have easily been addressed and fixed.

Good MDs know the best time for feedback isn’t at formal reviews, but at the moment they feel someone on the team is doing a bad job. If an MD is frequently throwing people under the bus, it means they aren’t paying attention. If you see someone on your team making mistakes, address it right away. Waiting until the end just costs everyone time and money.



Let’s preface this by acknowledging being an MD is an altruistic endeavor. You want to make money, which means winning business, not winning over the hearts of your juniors. That being said, recognizing a strong junior can have mutual benefits. 

If you find a particularly impressive junior, take on a mentorship role. It obviously helps them build experience and aspire to move up, but it can also help you by having someone who you can delegate some responsibilities to. If done right, it can mean more money for everyone.  


Lead By Example 

Juniors will feel that the work is only as important as the MD makes it. As an MD, your work should be high quality and efficient (even if it means staying late when you have to). It’s a classic monkey see monkey do. If you can’t show your juniors what good work looks like, they probably aren’t going to be inspired to do much better. If you know what you’re doing, it’ll go a long way in making sure everyone else does too.


Knowing Your Role

Being an MD means you have responsibilities that others in the company don’t. While being a good leader and being approachable to your juniors is important, at the end of the day you’re no longer “just one of the guys/gals.” Adding to the section above, your team needs to see you taking your position and responsibilities seriously. Whether it’s by sitting at the head of the table at meetings, having your own office, or whatever, make it known that while you all might be a team, you are still the leader.  


Final Thoughts

The best of the best MDs find a way to excel not only at winning business, but also being great leaders (and at the very least, decent human beings). Whether you’re currently an MD, or still a junior looking to climb your way up and one day be the best MD you can be, consider the traits above and try to remember that being a great MD can be more than just winning business.


P.S.: You know what good MDs also do? Know when it is time to upgrade their ancient VDR platform. If you’re looking for an easy win, start your free trial of CapLinked today. We promise your juniors (and your bonus) will love you for it. 


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