5 Essential Management Skills (Plus How To Develop Them)

Updated June 9, 2023

Effective managers can coordinate projects successfully, make effective decisions for an organization and inspire a team of people to overcome challenges. They apply a wide variety of skills to perform well in their roles. Whether you're pursuing a management position for the first time or just seeking to improve your leadership style, building a strong skill set is essential to achieving your professional goals and advancing in your career.

In this article, we discuss five of the most important management skills to have and list some helpful steps for developing these abilities.

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What are management skills?

Management skills are abilities that enable a professional to lead a team, department or company effectively. Hard skills are technical competencies that relate to specific programs or areas of expertise. For example, if you're a software engineer, one of your hard skills may be proficiency in a certain programming language.

As a manager, it's important to develop these kinds of abilities so you can effectively guide others in honing the same skills.In contrast, soft skills have more broad applications. They typically relate to interpersonal interactions and communication or personal development in the workplace.

Problem-solving, time management and organization are all examples of important soft skills. While hard skills are key when completing particular tasks, soft skills are essential when directing people, overseeing teams and making informed decisions.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume (With Examples)

5 key management skills

The following types of management skills can help leaders across industries excel in their roles:

1. Leadership

Managers are responsible for overseeing the work of others and motivating a team toward a common goal. They also lead meetings, assign workloads and support collaboration across teams and departments.

Well-developed leadership skills can aid you in coordinating tasks and directing employees to complete work on time and according to plan. They can also prepare you to conduct employee evaluations and foster professional development for team members.Here are some examples of leadership skills:

  • Decisiveness

  • Team building

  • Empathy

  • Dependability

  • Constructive criticism

  • Delegating tasks

  • Empowerment

  • Integrity

  • Mentoring

  • Motivating others

  • Patience

  • Relationship management

Related: 8 Skills You Need for Effective Team Building

2. Planning

Whether you're managing people, projects or a combination of the two, the ability to prepare a vision for the future and strategize solutions is essential to good management. Planning skills help when setting goals and determining the most efficient path to meet objectives.

They can also be useful when conducting administrative activities like budgeting and scheduling. The following are specific examples of planning skills:

  • Cognitive skills

  • Adaptability

  • Business development

  • Critical thinking

  • Flexibility

  • Logical reasoning

Related: What Is Strategic Planning? Definition, Techniques and Examples

3. Strategy

A strategic manager is someone who can identify inefficiencies and make improvements quickly. They can also determine how to overcome obstacles, complete projects and reach targets.

Good managers try different strategies until they find one that works well. They also update their strategies continually to integrate industry advancements. Connecting project methods to overall company goals can ensure strategies are effective. Strategy skills include:

  • Strategic thinking

  • Problem-solving

  • Conflict resolution

  • Creativity

  • Analytical thinking

Related: 10 Tips for Strategic Leadership

4. Communication

To lead people and projects effectively, managers convey complex information to others in a simple and straightforward way. Communication skills ensure they can provide helpful instructions to the right people at the right time.

Great communicators listen carefully to others, retain information well and correspond with team members in a timely manner. Managers with strong communication skills typically have the following aptitudes:

  • Active listening

  • Collaboration

  • Interpersonal communication

  • Negotiation

  • Persuasion

  • Public speaking

  • Verbal communication

  • Written communication

  • Interviewing

  • Building relationships

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

5. Organization

As a manager, you may be responsible for balancing many tasks at the same time. Often, this means overseeing multiple project timelines, deadlines and calendar events such as meetings, conferences and presentations.

Staying organized can help you complete tasks efficiently. Arranging your work logically ensures you have access to important information when you want it. It also prevents you and the team from missing critical dates or events. Organizational skills examples include:

  • Goal setting

  • Administrative skills

  • Project management

  • Time management

  • Deadline management

  • Event coordination

  • Recordkeeping

  • Scheduling

Read more: Top Organizational Skills: Examples and How To Develop Them

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How to develop management skills

Being in a management position means you have the opportunity to make impactful contributions to an organization and grow your professional career. Enhancing your abilities can help you prepare for the challenges of a leadership role. Here are three steps for developing your management skills:

1. Seek opportunities to lead

Like with all professional abilities, perfecting managerial skills requires time, effort and practice. To practice applying management abilities, look for opportunities to lead within your current position.

For example, you may be able to volunteer to complete urgent tasks, deliver presentations or help train new employees. Seeking more challenging obligations can prove to your supervisor that you're ready for the demands of a management role.

2. Find a role model

Look for great leaders both inside and outside your organization, and take time to observe how they interact with others. Pay close attention to the character traits they exhibit, how they behave under pressure and what they do when they encounter complex challenges.

Consider asking a leader to mentor you to help nurture your managerial talents. While it takes time and experience to become a successful manager, an accomplished leader's advice can help you understand the obstacles and circumstances you may see when leading a team.

Related: How To Find a Mentor in 5 Steps

3. Ask for feedback

While self-evaluation is important, asking for feedback from others can help you identify areas to improve that you may have otherwise missed. Next time you have an employee evaluation, ask your supervisor for feedback on your organization, planning and strategy, communication and people management skills.

Once you know your strengths and weaknesses in these areas, you can continue developing your best attributes and work on areas in need of improvement.

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