Harvard Business Review authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman compiled data from over 332,000 bosses, subordinates, and peers to find the skills that allow managers to be successful. Across different levels of management, the results were consistent and included the following skills (in order of importance):
- inspires/motivates others
- possesses high level of integrity and honesty
- analyzes issues and solves problems
- is driven to achieve results
- powerful and prolific communication skills
- collaboration and building teamwork
- builds relationships
- technical skills
- takes a strategic perspective
- develops others
- takes initiative
- carries out innovation
- champions change
- connects the organization to outside world
- establishes stretch goals
- engages in self-development
Respondents believed that managers at different levels, including supervisors, middle managers, and top managers, needed a balance of these skills to be successful and to help achieve organizational goals. The results suggest that the fundamental skills managers need as they ascend the ladder of the organization do not change, though the relative importance of some of the skills do. Managers therefore have personal, interpersonal, technical, and strategic roles in advancing the goals of the organization.
"The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level" by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. Harvard Business Review. July 30, 2014.
The professional organization American Management Association outlines six key skills needed to be a successful manager. Management and leadership skills are necessary for guiding one’s team, from prioritizing and delegating tasks to motivating and developing employees’ skills. Also vital in interacting with others is communication skills. From effectively communicating broad ideas like values and goals to clearly communicating details of a project, managers must ensure their messages are understood. Likewise, communication is not unidirectional. Effective managers are also strong listeners, approachable and welcoming toward ideas, concerns, and even criticisms of colleagues. Managers often work in a collaborative role, so flexibility, open-mindedness, and being able to effectively give and receive feedback are important skills in working with others toward a common goal. The skills discussed above are often considered “soft skills,” interpersonal skills that enable employees to effectively work with others. Next, critical thinking skills allow a manger to make decisions objectively, preventing and solving problems by considering multiple solutions. Managers also must have financial skills. Even managers of non-profit organizations understand they are stewards of budgets and resources. Managers weigh the financial costs and benefits of decisions and attempt to predict revenue and costs. Finally, successful managers have project management skills to effectively plan, organize, and execute projects, efficiently utilizing the people and resources available.
The scope of management both in terms of types of work or organizations managed and the specific functions or roles performed by management is vast. It is not worthwhile or even possible to prepare a comprehensive list of all the roles performed by managers and identify all the skills required in effective performance of these roles. To help understand the nature of management work and the general requirements for becoming effective managers, different authors have classified management role and functions in different ways. I will describe some of these alternate approaches.
One of the most widely known approach to identification of management role is to identify the primary management functions that constitute the basic management process. These management functions are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Corresponding to these we can speak of four management skill of planning, organizing, leading and controlling.
Another popularly used list of managerial roles has been suggested by Mintzberg. He has identified ten managerial roles divided in three categories as listed below.
- Figurehead role: In this role the manager is only acting as a figurehead to represent the company.
- Leadership role: In this role a manages leads, motivates and guides the people working under him.
- Liaison role: In this role the managers develops maintains and manages relationship with people in other parts of the organization and with outsiders .
- Recipient role: To collect and receive information required by him and other working under him for performance of their work.
- Disseminator role: Passing on to subordinates the information required by them.
- Spokesperson role: Passing on information to people in other parts of organization as well as to outsiders.
- Entrepreneurial role: This involves innovating and taking initiatives to to give new directions to the activities of the organization.
- Disturbance-handler role: This basically involves unexpected problems as and when they occur.
- Resource allocator role: this involve taking decision on how the resources of the organization are to be used and making them available to subordinates who need to use those resources in performance of their duties.
- Negotiator role: Reaching agreements with various persons and groups to ensure their commitment and actions as required for achievement of organizational objectives.
Corresponding to these roles we can again identify corresponding skills such as leadership skills, problem solving skills and negotiating skills.
Another classification of management skills is given by R.L. Katz. He identifies three different skills.
- Technical Skills: These are the skills associated with the technology of the work managed. For example, a production manager must have some expertise in the technology of the manufacturing processes he manages.
- Human skills: These skills are required for dealing with subordinates, colleagues, superiors and outsiders.
- Conceptual and design skills: These are the general skill in analysis and evaluation for managerial decision making.