Six Leadership Skills No Good Manager Can Be Without

By Lacey Conner, SHRM-CP on Mar 12, 2020
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Are good managers born? Or are they made?

Having effective leaders in your company’s management roles is important because strong managers have enormous impact on employee productivity and retention. Employees who rate their managers as poor performers are four times more likely to look for other jobs than are those with effective managers. Good managers also motivate their teams to high achievement, build open, trusting relationships and heighten employee engagement and company loyalty.

A Gallup study showed that only 1 out of every 10 people has what it takes to manage effectively. Exceptional team management and employee oversight require both hard and soft skills, and few people possess the whole palette by the time they become managers. Many also have never had good managers they could emulate.

Often, managers have the technical competencies they need in their roles. What they tend to lack are the visionary and interpersonal skills that allow them to motivate, inspire, resolve conflict and manage differences and change.

With education and training, your managers can improve. Whether you decide to create proprietary training, send your managers through seminars or online courses or hire a third-party to customize training for your organization, consider the six skillsets below as the minimum must-haves for your program to teach in order to elicit change and long-term success.

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  1. Listening Skills

    It may sound basic, but too few managers are adept at active listening that allows them to understand both the content and the subtext employees are trying to communicate. Good listeners:

    • Maintain eye contact.
    • Lean toward the speaker.
    • Show genuine interest by not fidgeting or interrupting.
    • Don’t plan what they’re going to say while the speaker is still talking.
    • Clarify their understanding by summarizing the information they’ve heard and asking relevant, insightful questions.

    Because good listeners’ main goal is to understand and build rapport, they also pay attention to body language, tone of voice, facial expressions and other non-verbal clues that help them glean the emotions and motivations behind the employee’s message. They don’t allow their own biases, preconceived ideas, distractions or personal feelings to hamper the interaction.

  2. Giving Meaningful Feedback

    Employees want to know where they stand, where they’ve succeeded and where they can improve. According to a 2016 Gallup study, 87% of millennials and 69% of non-millennials want professional development help on the job, but only a small portion of them receive the pointers they need improve. Consistent, meaningful feedback is powerful, but getting in the habit of giving it – and knowing how to both appropriately applaud employees and constructively deliver less-than-positive feedback – can be stress-inducing. Teaching managers to build a daily feedback loop with their subordinates will help them create a culture of deep engagement and continuous improvement on their teams.

  3. Time Management

    Managers – particularly those who are new to their roles – may be unprepared for the additional meetings, interruptions and other obligations that come with the job. No one-size-fits-all time management approach will work for every manager, so training should offer your managers multiple planning strategies so they can choose what best helps them handle the demands on their time.

  4. Delegation

    Day-to-day involvement in tactics prevents managers from casting vision and building their employees’ capabilities. Training should teach managers how to:

    • Envision a desired outcome.
    • Develop strategy.
    • Identify and assign the people they trust to deliver.
    • Establish a timeline and reporting structure.
    • Set expectations and accountabilities.
    • Provide appropriate oversight and support.
    • Maintain a focus on progress toward results rather than on how the work is getting done.
  5. Communication Skills

    Managers are required to communicate both up and down. To lead effectively and foster a collaborative spirit within their teams, managers must be able to clearly articulate the department’s or company’s vision and strategies and help employees recognize their individual significance in achieving the desired goals. Clear communication, without hidden agendas, helps managers build trust with both their superiors and their teams.

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  6. Emotional Intelligence

    Emotionally intelligent managers understand their own strengths and weaknesses and are in tune with others’ feelings. They are aware of the ways their actions and attitudes affect those around them, and they are thus able to react and express their own emotions calmly. They build strong relationships and know how to respond to, influence and inspire their teams in good times and bad. With intentionality and practice, every person can become more emotionally intelligent. Training should help managers build awareness into their own and their employees’ feelings as a starting point to developing deeper emotional intelligence.

Soft-skills training for managers should never be a one-and-done scenario. Cultivating the capabilities needed to thrive as a manager takes time, practice, intentionality and accountability. Ongoing training and mentoring are crucial for success. Some managers will develop these skills faster than others will. Some may benefit from one-on-one coaching or mentoring in addition to the formal training your company provides. Remember, too, that good management starts from the top down. As an owner, you must lead by example, modeling the behaviors you expect from your managers.

If you recognize that your managers could benefit from training and don’t know where to start, contact your Axcet HR Solutions representative for help.

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