Key Skills for Today’s Managers

What are the key skills to acquire to manage a team effectively?

From my 20 years of managerial experience I would say;

People Skills

Having abilities and personal qualities to interact with people and to having an amicable working relationships with all stakeholders are most essential.   Managing people, typically most are of the Millennial generation, requires a persuasive or consultative management style; by which requires a manager to have good people skills.

People skills qualities includes both verbal and non-verbal.   The words used, voice tones, body language and facial expressions all play a role in having good people skills.  It even gets more convoluted when the team consist of people of different ethnicity.

As a manager I have found that 50% to 70% of my daily tasks involve managing people’s emotions and personal expectations (or dissatisfaction) that they have towards their work demands (targets) and on their working colleagues.    Balancing these emotions and personal expectations with achieving work objectives require a lot of people skills and time.

Many have identified communication and motivation as two other essential managerial skills to have.  For me, these two are subsets of People Skills.


Recommended Readings:

  • Personality Plus by Florence Littauer
  • Winning With People by John Maxwell
  • The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson


Planning & Organizational Skills

Having abilities to see the end in mind and skills to successful work completion.   Successful managers must plan for success and organize their team to getting the work done to plans.  These are easily said than done.   Many managers lack these skills or fail in this area of management.

So what are the planning and organizational skills that are required?

Planning is about developing strategies and outlining the steps and time to achieve a goal.  It is about creating a visual pathway for stakeholder to see how the goal is to be achieved.  One essential planning skill that I found effective is Project Management.   The PMP and PRINCE 2 are two known Project Management programs that can be learned.

Organizational skills is about executing the plan by deploying the appropriate resources to achieve a  goal.   Some of these skills are explained in PMP and PRINCE 2.    However the most effective organizational skills I have I had learned on the job.   Such as how to have an effective 30 minute daily meeting and ensuring everyone on my team know what the others are doing.  In that 30 minute meeting anyone of my team voices are heard and that they may request for support or flag any possible work issues.   Or how to evaluate people’s abilities and effectively deploy them in areas that they can perform and succeed in their careers.


Leadership Skills

I have a different view when it comes to leadership.   Many people associate leadership as a skill different from management skills and leadership is about leading people.

I have taken leadership to be something that a manager must have to be able to bring success to what he is assigned to manage.   A leader is someone who is at the forefront of taking responsibilities and is accountable for his team’s actions and performance.   A leader is someone who has knowledge and abilities that are generally better than anyone’s knowledge and abilities on the team.   A leader is someone who the team follows to achieve a goal.

Many people list integrity, motivation, trustworthiness, communication, etc. to be leadership skills.  Over the 30 years I have seen leaders without these skills perform and be accepted as leaders.    Just read the world news or corporate news and it would be easy to spot these leaders.   They are still leaders.   But not of good integrity, trustworthiness or make them a good role model.