9 important skills all managers should have: a complete list


Take a look at our list of management skills no leader should be without, and see if your repertoire’s lacking these key workday traits.

manager holding team meeting

It’s often been said that a team is only as strong as the manager. Are you delivering results but finding morale is down? Do your team have a strong bond but struggle to work as well as they should?

Management style can sometimes trickle down into the workforce. Striking a balance between results and job satisfaction is hugely integral to the growth and wellbeing of your team.

And while ‘the whole package’ is a bit of a cliché in the business world, it still rings true, even today. Take a look at our list of management skills no leader should be without, and see if your repertoire’s lacking these key workday traits.

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  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Providing Feedback
  4. Adaptability
  5. Building Relationships
  6. Developing Skills
  7. Decision Making
  8. Time Management
  9. Conflict Resolution


manager catching up with team

1. Leadership skills

We’ll start with the obvious – as a manager, it goes without saying you should also be a leader. Sounds like it’s not worth mentioning really, right? Wrong. Leadership is a crucial skill that many managers seem to lack.

How do I develop this skill?

Do you inspire your team? Do they look at Monday mornings as an opportunity? A great manager leads their team with trust, confidence and direction. Implementing these three attributes is key to making a team know their time is worthwhile and beneficial from Monday to Friday. Which leads us onto our second point.

2. Communication skills

Any manager worth their salt knows that strong communication skills foster equally strong relationships amongst their team.

Pay full attention to any problems or concerns your team are voicing. Make sure tasks and challenges are laid out clearly and in an achievable manner. Adapt your communication to suit each employee’s personality.

If a smooth workflow is what you’re after, effective communication that’s empathetic and personal makes things a whole lot easier, even if it’s just a short morning chit chat.

How do I develop this skill?

• If you’re brave enough, ask your team to rate your writing, speaking and presentation abilities – welcome any constructive criticism you receive.

• Be an attentive listener. Communication isn’t about always being the one doing all the talking. Give colleagues your full attention and note what they’re saying instead of formulating a response in your head.

• Be available as much as you can. Give your team the opportunity to communicate with you and make sure they feel welcome.

business colleagues walking and talking

3. Regular feedback

When we’re at school, we get feedback all the time – whether it was top marks, an A+ or the dreaded “must try harder” scribbled at the bottom of the workbook. Our work was constantly reinforced by people guiding our way through every subject.

As we move away from formal education, sometimes the feedback and constructive criticism we were used to as kids can stop. This can make it difficult to know whether we’re actually doing well at our job. Do we need to improve? Should you build on the great work you just delivered to make it even better? Are you heading in the right direction?

How do I develop this skill?

• Consider how the feedback you give affects your team. People respond to feedback in different ways; some may perceive it as a threat, others as an incentive to grow. Personalising your approach to feedback improves the way you work with others.

• Don’t avoid the difficult conversations; delaying critical feedback is risky as you may selectively remember certain details after more than 24 hours.

• Strike a balance between critical feedback and constructive praise. Too much of one can be ruinous to your team.

Be sure you’re using your interactions with the team as an opportunity to let your employees know how they’re doing. It’s an area a lot of managers neglect and is a super effective tool.

4. Adapting to multi-generational teams

Adaptability is another hugely important skill that managers should be well versed in, especially when it comes to working with employees across generations.

With the largest workforce – Baby Boomers – making way for Millennials (which include both Generation Z and Y), adapting to what different generations expect from their work environment makes for a more effective team dynamic.

How do I develop this skill?

• Tailoring your communication style is important. Baby boomers tend to be more reserved, Generation Z value in-person interactions, while Generation Y’ers prefer a collaborative approach. Take note of who is who on your team.

• Be mindful of responses to change in the workplace. Boomers are generally cautious about change, while Millennials can thrive in it, actively anticipating and welcoming it as a new opportunity.

• Structure project teams across generations so that there’s a mix of ability and experience. This also curbs people gravitating towards individuals from the same age group.

manager reading documents

5. Relationship building

Whether it’s helping shape their career goals, making them feel valued, or just getting to know them on a personal level, having a rock-solid relationship with people throughout your team is one of the most important skills you can have in a managerial role.

In some ways, it’s like being a team leader and a team player at the same time. Making yourself seem like you’re not above your team goes a long way to their growth and satisfaction – ask them about their hobbies, crack a joke every now and then, and treat them when they’ve gone above and beyond.

Employees who feel valued go the extra mile, bring in results and receive a sense of achievement that would be missing without those strong relationships. Strengthen the bonds within your team to avoid both shaky business and a monotonous work week.

How do I develop this skill?

• Learn to recognise emotions and feelings in others. Improving your emotional intelligence will allow you to connect more fully with members of your team.

• Find out what motivates them and develop a career action plan that can help them reach their goals.

• Avoid micromanaging – your team will lose trust, morale and their desire to work if you’re constantly hounding them. If you’re confident in their ability, then trust that they’ll be to do their job.

6. Developing others

Similar to our last entry – if employees know their career is developing, that satisfaction translates into a contented, focused workforce. If they feel like they’re treading water, month after month – even year after year – then that’s when things can stagnate.

The opportunity to learn and grow gives your team something to work towards, so developing a clear career progression for them and following up on it should be a big priority.

How do I improve their skills?

• Provide them with training and development tools that’ll help to foster growth. If they express an interest in attending courses or classes, encourage them to do so.

• Align your development efforts with clear expectations regarding your team members’ roles, responsibilities and required skillsets.


manager running brainstorm

7. Decision making

Are you a bit of a fence-sitter when it comes to decision making? If it took you a while to answer that question, you might be. In the world of small business, quick-thinking and a strong backbone are absolute must-haves.

That said, we’re not saying hasty hires and rash ideas are the way forward. Look at the bigger picture, evaluate what’s important and what’s not, and consider the outcomes when making your decision.

Whatever the result of your decision – right or wrong – make sure you use it as an opportunity to learn. Avoiding or applying that same decision next time around is key to the progression of your team and yourself.

How do I develop this skill?

• Reframe the problem by thinking about it in its full context. Try to see the issue from a variety of perspectives so you don’t over-emphasise one aspect.

• Base your decisions on evidence rather than instinct. You may opt for what’s familiar, but it’s important to challenge these gut feelings.

• Be open-minded and ask for the opinions of others in order to inform your own decisions – this also fosters an atmosphere of openness that your team will appreciate.

manager mentoring colleague

8. Time management

Are you and your employees carrying work out in good time or are you stretched between tasks? If it’s getting to a point where the team works late each day, then consider how well you’re managing your time. A working culture that interferes with day-to-day life is certainly not what people look for in a career.

Prioritising and delegating makes hitting targets more achievable. Make to-do lists, eliminate distractions, take breaks when you need to, and complete one action before you move onto another.

Saving time and energy by not spreading yourself too thin across multiple tasks speaks of your skills as a leader.

How do I develop this skill?

• Learn to delegate to others per their skills and abilities. Multi-tasking tends to lead to stress and burnout.

• At the start of each day, make a list of tasks that require your immediate attention. Don’t lose focus by working through time-consuming tasks of lesser importance first.

• Learn to say no. If you’re overloaded with work, don’t take on more than you can feasibly work through, politely decline and start on your own to-do list.

professional conducting research

9. Conflict resolution

It will happen sooner or later, so be on your toes with a conflict resolution plan when employees disagree with one another or management.

Conflicts within the workforce contribute to an unpleasant atmosphere and negative working culture. So, handling them in an effective manner helps employees reach a shared understanding, rebuilds team spirit and regains focus amongst employees.

Without it, functioning smoothly is a much more difficult task, so it’s worth having something in place if problems do arise.

How do I develop this skill?

• The other skills you’ll have built up will come in handy here, from listening and emotional intelligence to tailoring your communication to different people.

• Be patient. Conflict resolution isn’t solved right away, so don’t rush towards resolving the issue. Consider all the options when you’re ready for the solution.

• Separate the person from the conflict and be impartial. If bias exists, a solution will be hard to reach, so it’s important not to have your mind made up before you broach any sort of resolution.

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