The 10 best management skills you need

Being a manager is hard work, but being a good manager is even more so. Just consider the range of knowledge and skills required to cope with a variety of people, tasks and business needs. Authors James Manktelow and Julian Birkinshaw say that ideally managers should know between 90 and 120 individual skills. Manktelow, Founder and CEO of, and Birkinshaw, Associate Dean of Programs at London Business School, surveyed 15,242 managers around the world to identify the most critical skills, which are highlighted in their book Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, 2018).

Here are the top-ranked skills, according to their survey:

1. Build good working relationships with people at all levels.
Recommended by 79.9% of managers surveyed.
According to the survey, the most important management skill is the ability to build good relationships with people at all levels. For example, one approach to relationship building described in the book focuses on creating “high quality connections” through respectful engagement.

2. Effectively prioritize tasks for yourself and your team.
Recommended by 79.5% of managers surveyed.
“We all have a lot of things we want to do or need to do,” says Birkinshaw. “The demands can often seem overwhelming, for us and our team members. This is why prioritization is the second most important management skill. One particularly useful approach to this that the book recommends is called the
Matrix of action priorities.

3. Take into account many factors in decision making.
Recommended by 77.8% of managers surveyed.
We have all seen how bad decisions can be when rushed or when financial concerns are the only criteria used. This is why it is useful to use a formal, structured process to think through a problem in depth, including analyzing risks and exploring ethical considerations. The ORAPPA frame — which stands for ohopportunities, Risques, Aalternatives and improvements, Pbest experience, Ato analyse, Ppeople, and Aalignment and ethics — is a good example.

4. Know the key principles of good communication.
Recommended by 77.7% of managers surveyed.
“Management is about getting things done by working with people,” says Manktelow. You can only do this if you communicate effectively. This is where the 7 Cs of communication – clear, concise, to the point, correct, consistent, thorough, courteous – can help you get your point across more clearly.

5. Understand the needs of different stakeholders and communicate with them appropriately.
Recommended by 75.8% of managers surveyed.
As you lead larger projects, it becomes more and more important to manage the many different groups of people who can support or undermine the work you do. This is where it is important to develop good stakeholder analysis and management skills.

6. Bring people together to solve problems.
Recommended by 75.0% of managers surveyed.
“It’s often tempting to try and fix problems on your own,” Birkinshaw says. “But there are many, many reasons it pays to bring together a team of experienced people.” Bringing people together for brainstorming sessions is a good start, but it’s also worth understanding the structured problem-solving processes, knowing how to run meetings well, and being proficient at managing group dynamics.

7. Develop new ideas for solving customer problems.
Recommended by 74.4% of managers surveyed.
A large number of products and services are now selling based on customer reviews and opinions. To get the best reviews, you need to deliver something that meets customer needs exceptionally well. Approaches like design thinking and ethnographic research can help you develop highly satisfying products, and customer experience mapping can help you deliver a satisfying customer journey.

8. Cultivate relationships with customers.
Recommended by 73.6% of managers surveyed.
“How you do it depends on whether you serve consumer or business markets,” says Manktelow. “When you deal with consumers, you will get good insight into customer groups by segmenting your market and developing customer profiles representing those different segments. ”

9. Build trust within your team.
Recommended by 73.3% of managers surveyed.
When people don’t trust each other in a team, they waste a lot of time in politics. On the other hand, people who trust teams work efficiently and well, and they can produce wonderful results. To build trust, you need to lead by example, communicate honestly and openly, get to know individuals as people, avoid blame, and discourage behaviors that undermine trust.

10. Use emotional intelligence.
Recommended by 72.1% of managers surveyed.
“All managers need emotional intelligence to be effective,” says Birkinshaw. “It means having the self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy and social skills necessary to behave in a mature, wise and empathetic manner with the people around you. Emotionally intelligent managers are a joy to work with, which is why they attract and retain the best people. ”

“Even if you already feel like you have some of these skills, know that there is always more to learn, and the results will translate into improved leadership,” says Manktelow. “Practice them until they become effortless and over time not only will you achieve better results, but you will get better results from your team and you will stand out as a talented leader in the field. within your organization. ”

Desda Moss is editor-in-chief of HR review.


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