The strength of your organization often rests in the hands of individual managers. Managers play an outsized role in retention and employee engagement, and are largely responsible for ensuring strategic targets are met. Yet, despite their critical role in the overall success of the mission, manager development is often dealt with in a haphazard manner where the best swim and the rest slowly sink, often dragging their departments down with them.
Great managers aren’t born however, they are trained in key skills and mindsets they need to succeed as managers and leaders. These skills encompass a wide range of abilities, from prioritizing and delegating to navigating change and fostering accountability. As you look for ways to build a strong leadership pipeline and develop managers for long-term success, here are eight key skillsets to focus on.
Eight Skillsets Needed to Succeed as a Manager
1. Manager Mindset
Developing a strong manager mindset is essential for success in a leadership role. This involves increasing self-awareness and building high expectations of managerial success. Managers must navigate the identity shift from being an individual contributor to becoming a manager, understanding the unique responsibilities and challenges that come with the role.
Aligning values, work-life balance, energy management, critical thinking, and well-being are all vital components of a successful manager mindset. By aligning these aspects, middle managers can effectively lead their teams and achieve optimal results.
2. Conversation & Meetings
Managers need to effectively manage conversations and meetings. Conducting effective one-on-one meetings with team members helps build strong relationships, establish open lines of communication, and provide guidance and support.
Managing e-mail is also crucial for effective communication. Timely and thoughtful responses to emails and messages demonstrate professionalism and ensure that information flows smoothly within the organization.
Leading group meetings requires strong facilitation skills, the ability to engage participants, and create an environment that encourages collaboration and productivity. Furthermore, managers should be skilled at sharing information vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, ensuring that relevant information is disseminated throughout the organization.
3. Prioritizing and Delegating
One of the fundamental skills that all managers need is the ability to prioritize and delegate effectively. Knowing when to use consensus versus other decision-making approaches is crucial in ensuring that decisions are made efficiently and with the involvement of relevant stakeholders. Additionally, managers must excel in delegating tasks and responsibilities to their team members. This includes identifying the right person for the job, setting clear expectations, and providing the necessary support and resources for successful completion.
Furthermore, managers must recognize when and how to display managerial courage. This involves making difficult decisions, taking calculated risks, and standing up for what is right, even in the face of opposition. Having the confidence and resolve to make tough choices is a vital skill for managers in any organization.
4. Creating Accountability
Creating a culture of accountability is essential for driving performance and achieving organizational goals. Managers must establish an environment of self-accountability, where individuals take ownership of their work and outcomes. Clear performance expectations and goals help ensure that team members understand what is expected of them and how their work contributes to the overall success of the team and organization.
Effective follow-up can help improve self-accountability. Managers should provide helpful and inspiring feedback, both formally and informally, to recognize achievements and address areas for improvement. When faced with performance challenges, managers must approach them constructively, providing guidance and support to help employees overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.
5. Feedback & Managing Conflict
Effective middle managers excel in providing clear and constructive feedback. This includes delivering positive reinforcement for a job well done, as well as offering guidance for improvement in a non-threatening manner. Regular coaching conversations, both formal and informal, help build strong relationships and foster professional growth among team members.
Conflict is inevitable in any workplace, and managers must be adept at managing uncomfortable situations. They should possess the skills to navigate conflict resolution, facilitate productive discussions, and help parties find common ground. Moreover, managers need to manage their own reactions and emotions, demonstrating emotional intelligence and modeling appropriate behavior for their teams.
6. Engaging & Developing Others
To excel as a manager, it is crucial to engage and develop others. This begins with selecting and building a strong team, ensuring that the right individuals are in the right roles. Managers should create an engaging and inclusive environment that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation.
Self-awareness and self-development are vital aspects of managerial success. Managers must prioritize their own growth and development, continually seeking leadership training opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge. By doing so, they can inspire their team members to follow suit, creating a culture of continuous improvement.
Managers also play a pivotal role in developing and growing team members. This involves providing guidance, mentorship, and opportunities for learning and advancement. By investing in the development of their teams, managers not only enhance individual performance but also build a strong and capable workforce.
7. Influence & Presence
Effective managers possess leadership presence and credibility within the organization. They are respected and trusted by their colleagues and employees. Developing leadership presence requires a combination of strong communication skills, professional demeanor, and the ability to inspire and motivate others.
Influence is another critical skill that managers need to excel. It involves understanding how to navigate organizational dynamics and build relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Managers must also grasp the unofficial organization—the informal networks and power structures within the company—and exercise political savvy when necessary.
8. Navigating Change
Change is a constant in today's business landscape, and managers must be adaptable and open to new ideas and approaches. They should embrace change and help others navigate through it effectively. This requires clear communication, empathy, and the ability to address concerns and resistance that may arise during times of transition.
In addition to managing change, effective managers create and support a culture of continuous improvement. They encourage their teams to identify areas for enhancement and facilitate the implementation of innovative ideas and processes. By fostering a growth mindset, managers can drive organizational growth and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving business environment.
A manager who is actively developing and honing these skills will grow into a well-rounded LEAD NOW! leader and become an asset to any organization. These skills enable effective leadership, foster a positive work environment, and drive both business and people results. To learn more about the Stewart Leadership LEAD NOW! Model, contact us.
- Which of these eight skillsets do I most urgently need to develop?
- What is one small change that I could make to improve in that area?
- Do I have a coach, mentor, or colleague who could help me improve in that area?