What Skills Do Managers Need to Have?

Some people are born to manage and lead others to greatness, others like the challenge of managing a team, and still others have the title of manager thrust upon them for doing well in their jobs. Regardless of your particular route to management, all successful managers need to have a variety of skill sets from which to draw, particularly those referred to as “soft skills.

Managers need to know what is really happening in order to evaluate results and performance, team effectiveness, and other key business measurables.

Leadership skills. Managers are the people who make things happen – they spur people to action. They need to know how to inspire and effectively lead people.

Managers must know how to rally their troops behind them or behind a common cause. That’s how great work gets done. Or any work at all, really.

People skills. Managers, it’s no surprise here, manage people. Accordingly, managers cannot be shy violets, or at least they cannot lead others to believe they’re shy violets. (Yes, there is a difference.) Managers need to be able to effectively relate to and talk to people; they must understand others and be able to express themselves clearly.

Presentation skills. As a manager you will inevitably be required to represent your organization, make a presentation, speak to your team as a group, or do at least some form of public speaking. You therefore need polished presentation skills at the ready in order to inspire confidence in your team and others, and in turn helping you to be an effective manager.

Decision-making skills. Managers must be able to make good decisions in a fair-minded way. They must carefully weigh the available information and not hesitate when making a decision, but at the same time they must not make decisions too rashly. Some decisions will in hindsight turn out to be mistakes, but one of the best decisions a manager can make is to acknowledge and not hide a mistake. As you would expect any other member of the team to do.

Observation and monitoring skills. To know what’s going on (how the work the team is doing is going, how well the team dynamics work, etc.), managers must have finely-tuned observation and monitoring skills. In order to make good decisions, they need to know what the current situation is: good decisions cannot be based on bad information and intelligence. Managers need to know what is really happening in order to evaluate results and performance, team effectiveness, and other key business measurables.

Technical skills. If the manager doesn’t know what people are talking about, then how can she make good decisions regarding her people and their projects? While a manager doesn’t need to be able to fill in for her employees, a manager must have a sufficient enough grasp of her employees’ jobs, responsibilities, vocabulary, and jargon, regardless of their area or specialty.

Expert skills. Managers should be knowledgeable and aim to be recognized as a legitimate source of knowledge. Being an expert on something can lend you credibility with your team and encourage them to seek you out to serve as an invaluable reference. On the other hand, this only works if your degree of expertise is warranted. Labeling yourself an expert on something when you’re really not is a good way to alienate yourself from your team. Just let others know what your real strengths are and where your expertise lies, and don’t pretend to know about something when you don’t.