Developing as an Effective Manager: Key Skills and Abilities

Smiling businesswomen in discussion in office
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In the article, "Why It's Time to Change Our Views on Management and the Role of Manager," I underscore the renewed importance of this role in our world of uncertainty and change. In this article, I drill down into some of the specific attributes you need to survive and thrive in this role. 

Workplace Demographics Driving Demand for New Managers:

We are living and working through an interesting transition period in the workforce.

As older workers move into retirement or opt for part-time work, younger employees are moving into positions of responsibility. Unfortunately the pace of experienced workers exiting or reducing their daily involvement exceeds that of our ability to grow and develop new managers and leaders. There is a consistent demand across many sectors for management talent. In spite of the noise and news about machines taking our jobs, there is still a consistently strong demand for those with the skills to support the work of others. 

Management Can Be Rewarding, But It is Not for Everyone:

On the surface, the idea of guiding others and getting involved in hiring and employee development sounds exciting and even exotic to some. In reality, the role is incredibly demanding and completely focused on supporting and guiding the work of others while meeting the needs of your boss, your boss's boss and other peers and customers.

If you do not enjoy conducting difficult conversations, making presentations, navigating politics or even terminating employees, this can be a very uncomfortable role. 

In my article, "Why the Role of Manager Might Be a Mistake for You," I outline a number of the realities of this challenging role that merit consideration before you jump into it.


Ten Personal Attributes of Effective Managers:

I believe anyone can be a good manager. It is as much trainable skill as it is inherent ability; as much science as art. Here are ten personal attributes that make you a better manager:


  1. You have confidence in yourself and your abilities. You are happy with who you are, but you are still learning and getting better.
  2. You are something of an extrovert. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you can’t be a wallflower. Management is a people skill - it’s not the job for someone who doesn’t enjoy people.
  3. You are honest and straight forward. Your success depends heavily on the trust of others.
  4. You are an includer not an excluder. You bring others into what you do. You don’t exclude other because they lack certain attributes.
  5. You have a "presence." Managers must lead. Effective leaders have a quality about them that makes people notice when they enter a room.
  6. You are consistent, but not rigid; dependable, but can change your mind. You make decisions, but easily accept input from others.
  1. You are a little bit crazy. You think out-of-the box. You try new things and if they fail, you admit the mistake, but don’t apologize for having tried.
  2. You are not afraid to “do the math”. You make plans and schedules and work toward them.
  3. You are nimble and can change plans quickly, but you are not flighty.
  4. You see information as a tool to be used, not as power to be hoarded.

Some of the items are capable of being strengthened with coaching or training. Others are character related and some just reflect your nature. There are many exceptions to the list as well, so if you are an introvert and conservative versus an extrovert and "a little bit crazy," don't be frightened away from the role. On the other hand, self-confidence, character, an approach that is more inclusive than exclusive and a style that reflects organization with a focus on results are all absolute must-haves for success. 

The Bottom Line: 

Managing is a rewarding career where you have the unique opportunity to serve your firm while supporting the development of your team members. Great managers are masters of getting the work done and masters of creating opportunities for their team members to showcase and develop their talents. While not every day is a party, the role for the right person with the right attitude has a great deal to offer. 


Updated by Art Petty

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