To be a terrific manager, what skills should be cultivated?

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One of the best ways to find an answer to a question like this is to research sites that specialize in business, finance, management, and related topics, and peruse lists that breakdown essential managerial skills. Not all experts completely agree on the most essential skills a manager needs to possess, but there is enough consensus to form a composite picture.

CNN Money lists five skills essential to managers. First is honesty. Transparency between managers and employees engenders trust, which leads to more efficient performance. Second is diplomacy, which means the ability to mediate conflicts through mutual respect and compromise. Third is time management. It is essential that managers have the ability to focus employee efforts on top priority tasks. Fourth is delegation, which means passing on responsibilities and tasks to others so that managers can perform their primary function of oversight. Fifth is team-building: the ability to create, develop, and motivate teams that can work well together towards common goals.

The Brighton School of Business and Management lists six crucial managerial skills. First is the ability to communicate efficiently with the people they manage. Second is good organizational skills. Third is the ability to build teams, as mentioned above. Fourth is leadership in general, which is defined as the ability to set goals and assign responsibilities. Fifth is the ability to efficiently deal with changes. Sixth is domain knowledge, which refers to an overview or understanding of the process or area that they manage.

CEO Magazine lists 10 important management skills. First is integrity, which is the same as honesty, as listed above. Second is team building, which we can see made all three lists. Third is positivity, or maintaining a positive attitude. Fourth is efficient communication, as noted above. Fifth is the ability to be an effective listener. Sixth is emotional intelligence, which refers to the ability not only to understand and control their own emotions, but also to empathize with what the people under them are going through. Seventh is delegation, which is mentioned above. Eighth is the ability to make decisions quickly if needed. Ninth is collaboration, which refers to working with others rather than attempting to go it alone. Tenth is flexibility, or adaptability.

We can see, then, that the most important skills that are essential for managers to cultivate appear more than once in these lists. These skills would include honesty, delegation, team building, communication, and organization.

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Management skills and leadership skills can be used interchangeably, as good leaders are generally good at managing people and tasks, and good managers make good leaders. One skill set that should be a focus of a good manager is to be a motivating person and presence. As a manager, you are likely ordering people to do various tasks. People are not always going to want to do those tasks, so good managers can effectively motivate workers to do their best even on tasks that might be mundane or quite difficult. A good manager is also a person that skillfully delegates tasks. This is an important skill because it involves more than simply telling someone else to do a particular job. A manager should be picky with which tasks get delegated to which employee. Each employee is unique and has specific strengths. A manager wants to always delegate work to the employee that will do the best with that task. The manager also has to make sure that the work is delegated out fairly. Some employees might get delegated more often than others because they are dependable, but there is a risk in burning out that employee. A good manager has the skills to read people and prevent that kind of attitude from developing. Finally, terrific managers are people that can make decisions, communicate those decisions, and plan out how to implement those decisions.

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