You’ve seen firsthand how one bad manager can taint a work environment. You’ve watched as managers have barked out orders, mistreated team members or micromanaged projects, and you know how that affects employee morale.
You can’t help but think you could do a better job. You feel you have a good handle on what employees need from a manager. While it’s true there are poor managers out there, leading a team isn’t quite as simple as it may seem.
“Many people on my team want to be managers,” says Emily LaRusch, Manager of Back Office Betties. “They think of the position as one that will move them beyond the daily production work, increase their income and plump their ego.” But she points out that being a great manager takes an ability to lead people as well as the ability to think on one’s feet to creatively solve problems.
Knowing yourself and knowing your strengths and weaknesses should be your first priority when considering a leadership role, LaRusch adds. So how can you know if you’re cut out to make a move for a management position?
We enlisted a few experienced business managers to help us identify five important managerial skills needed to effectively lead a team. Keep reading to see if you match the description.
5 managerial skills you’ll need in order to lead
You’re interested in learning not only the details of the task at hand, but the long-term vision for the company project. You love to figure out why something works or why it doesn’t, and you’re curious about others’ opinions as well.
Simply put, you’re not satisfied with an answer until you know the reasoning behind it. This type of curiosity is all about digging deeper, which is an important quality for managers to possess.
“Learning by experience alone does not scale as a leader. Your best hope is to become great at asking questions to learn from others,” says Jason Evanish, Manager of Get Lighthouse, Inc. “But curiosity isn’t just for when you start. It’s a habit you should never stop.” He adds that the more curiosity you have, the better you’ll become at listening to your team and learning what you need to make sound decisions quickly.
You work hard to build and maintain strong relationships—ones that are anchored in trust and transparency. You are quick to pay a compliment when it’s earned, and you’re not intimidated of confronting conflict head on.
“A critical trait of a great manager or leader is the ability to convince everyone that they are a valuable part of the team,” says Ben Luftman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Luftman, Heck & Associates. “People recognize and respond best to authenticity. If you truly believe that every employee is important to the success of your team, you communicate that to them and they believe you, then you will have a strong, cohesive team.”
You know from personal experience the detrimental effects an arrogant manager can have on their team. You know a company is nothing without its hardworking employees, and treat everyone equally regardless of their level in the company.
There are two types of generals, according to Jordan Scheltgen, Manager of CAVE Marketing. There are those who sit back at camp while the army is out fighting, and those who are on the first horse, leading everyone to battle. He believes the best managers fall into that second category.
“A great manager is someone who can work as a ‘player-coach’ amongst their team,” Scheltgen explains. “Someone who is able to roll up their sleeves and hop into the trenches with their team will gain their respect.” This type of leading by example ultimately leads to increased productivity all around, he adds.
You surround yourself with people you believe in and have confidence in. You don’t have an issue giving up control on certain things and trust in your ability to prioritize and make sound decisions. This is something not everyone can do, and it could serve you well in a management position.
Too often managers get caught up micromanaging their employees’ time, according to Dawn Roberts of Dawn Roberts Consulting. “This creates a culture of poor balance and mismanaged priorities, resulting in over-worked employees who are dissatisfied and unmotivated,” she adds.
One might assume being a manager means being in control off everything at all times, but the best managers know when to hand over the reins. The ability to delegate tasks and trust in your employees’ ability to handle them is monumental.
Not only does this help manage the overall workload, but it also helps your employees feel valued. By empowering them to take on tasks and giving them the freedom to do so, you’re showing them you trust them and appreciate their work.
Others tell you that you “think outside the box” and that your ideas are innovative. You’re not afraid to try something different, and you understand that taking calculated risks can lead to big rewards.
“Strive for the best thinking in the organization, not the safest,” says David Scarola, Vice President of The Alternative Board. “Involving the staff in key decisions, seeking a variety of inputs and making the best decision—even if it wasn’t your initial idea or is not the safest—will grow the respect of the team.”
This might be particularly applicable with millennial employees, according to Timothy Wiedman, retired Management & HR Professor of Doane University. “Too many business leaders attempt to impose a ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy upon their subordinates,” Wiedman explains. “This stifles creativity and innovation while frustrating younger employees who may envision a different way to approach a new situation.”
Could you make the difference?
You’ve been noticing problem areas and identifying opportunities for improvement in your current team. Rather than continuing to sit back and going through the motions, it might be time to put those good ideas into practice.
Do any of the descriptions above ring true for you? If you can relate to these managerial skills, you might be naturally inclined to lead a team of your own. You already possess many of the qualities needed to succeed, now all that’s missing are the technical skills and hands-on training.
Learn how a Business Management degree can help you round out your resume and help you acquire the skills needed to lead.