Upper Management Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Professionals who work in upper-level management help ensure that an organization meets its goals by overseeing the execution and delegation of strategic tasks. They may develop new ideas for a company to accommodate consumer requests or remain competitive within the market. If you're in an upper-level management position or interested in pursuing this career advancement, you may benefit from understanding which traits and abilities these professionals possess. In this article, we discuss what upper management skills are, examples of these competencies, how to improve them and how you can highlight them on a resume, cover letter or during an interview.

Related: Interview Questions for a Manager Position

What are skills for upper management?

Skills for upper management are competencies and abilities that professionals in high-level leadership roles may use to execute their tasks and responsibilities successfully. Individuals in upper management positions typically supervise a team of employees and ensure that all members perform their required job duties and have the necessary resources available in order to carry out their professional tasks. They may provide their team with support and guidance, and assist them if they encounter work-related challenges. These professionals typically work for a company or other type of organization and can manage a variety of people.

Some of their job duties may include:

  • Planning the tasks for their team to execute and delegating projects or assignments to the correct individuals

  • Understanding stakeholders' desires and communicating them to other managers or team members

  • Reviewing the organization's objectives and their individual goals in order to meet and accomplish them all

  • Analyzing and diagnosing issues within a product, project or team

  • Devising a plan to improve strategies and operations within the company

Depending on the organization and its education requirements, individuals in these roles may have an associate, bachelor's or master's degree. Students interested in pursuing a career in upper management may major in subjects such as:

  • Business administration

  • Management

  • Human resources

  • Marketing

  • Accounting

  • Management information systems

Related: What Are the Responsibilities of a Manager

Examples of upper management skills

To motivate and successfully lead their team, professionals in upper management positions may benefit from possessing a variety of common abilities. Some of these skills include:

Creativity and innovation

As someone working in an upper management position, you may use your creativity and innovative thinking to develop new solutions for a company's challenge or create a new product feature. Some organizations design new items and services based on user feedback and reviews, so you can use your creative approach when designing a new product according to consumer input and preferences. This ability may help you address customer concerns and show your target audience that your organization is willing to create innovative ideas to maintain their business and loyalty.

Interpersonal communication

If you're a manager, interpersonal communication can be an integral aspect of your role. As a part of your daily tasks, you may speak with a variety of professionals, including members of your team, other managers, your supervisors and clients or stakeholders. You may use your communication skills in order to understand the requests or questions of another person within your organization and confidently respond.

Prioritization

Upper-level managers may have several tasks that require their attention, so being able to prioritize their job duties can help them ensure they perform everything successfully and meet their deadlines. Members of their team may also have many assignments to execute, and an effective manager may be able to help them decide which tasks to handle first, and which they can take care of in the upcoming days or weeks. This can help a manager and the employees they supervise meet their goals effectively.

Leadership

As a manager, the ability to successfully lead and motivate members of your team can help you all meet your professional goals. This may include sharing the overall values and objectives of the organization with other employees, so everyone is clear about working towards a shared achievement or benchmark. This can help ensure that you're fostering an environment of support and encouragement amongst other employees.

Critical thinking and decision-making

Upper-level managers are typically responsible for many important decisions and may rely on their critical thinking skills to help them consider all of their options and select the right action or strategy. Making the correct decisions in the organization's interest can contribute to its success and continued growth and development. Good managers may take responsibility for their decisions, and hold themselves accountable for the consequences of their actions. This means that managers usually benefit from possessing these skills in order to adequately perform the responsibilities of their role.

Active listening

In addition to their verbal communication skills, professionals may benefit from having active listening abilities and being able to fully engage with people who speak with them. This can help them learn about and understand information related to business changes, user feedback and strategy implementation details. This can also help them understand the requests and priorities of their colleagues or the organization's stakeholders, allowing them to take multiple perspectives into consideration when they may business decisions.

Organization and delegation

In order to help their teams cohesively execute a task or project, upper-level managers may rely on their abilities to organize tasks and delegate assignments to others. This can help ensure that all employees understand what they're responsible for and know about their deadlines. Proper organization and delegation can ensure that all employees make contributions and are able to use their unique expertise and abilities.

Analysis

Being able to analyze various outcomes of strategic plans or consider several approaches towards addressing an issue may benefit someone in an upper management role. This can include evaluating a particular situation and considering several possible solutions or changes before making a final decision. This can help business leaders guide other employees and accomplish a company's goals.

Planning

Planning skills can help individuals in upper management positions meet their objectives while still adhering to their organization's budget, considering the available resources and meeting the necessary deadlines. This process may involve setting various goals for individuals or the company overall and developing steps to help others achieve them. Professionals may create schedules and outline specific actions when creating a business plan.

Related: Manager vs. Senior Manager: What's the Difference?

How to improve upper management skills

Consider following these steps if you're interested in improving your upper management skills:

1. Build trusting relationships

As you begin to improve your upper management skills, consider building strong relationships between yourself and those on your team. If you're not yet in an upper management position, you can still focus on your interactions with your coworkers and try to ensure that you're someone others feel comfortable relying on and trusting. If your team members feel comfortable trusting you as a supervisor or colleague, you may increase employee engagement and productivity while decreasing stress and work-related tension.

2. Increase your self-awareness

In order to increase your skills, you may benefit from understanding your current strengths and being honest with yourself about aspects of your professional capabilities that could benefit from improvement. This process may require self-awareness and reflection. This means that you may harness and improve your upper management skills by increasing your self-awareness and taking time to reflect on your competencies. Consider asking trusted colleagues about skills that you can develop to improve your leadership skills or decision-making capabilities.

3. Heighten your decision-making ability

Because decision making can be a primary aspect of a manager's role, consider harnessing this skill if you're interested in pursuing a position in upper-level management or increasing your professional performance. Strong decision-making skills may involve the ability to consider the desires of an organization, its consumers and its shareholders when choosing between a variety of outcomes. Consider practicing your listening and critical thinking skills to help you improve this fundamental competency.

4. Practice your communication skills

In order to show your employer that you're ready to advance into an upper management position or gain approval from employees that you supervise, you may benefit from practicing and strengthening your communication skills. Written and verbal communication can help business leaders share their insights and opinions regarding innovative projects or strategies and can help encourage collaboration and teamwork. These capabilities may also help you build stronger professional relationships.

Related: How To Write a Manager Resume Objective (With Examples)

Upper management skills in the workplace

As an upper management professional or an individual hoping to receive this type of position, there are several opportunities to develop as a professional and harness your skills. Review these tips for improving your skills in the workplace:

  • Check in with employees. If you're already a manager and you want to improve your overall performance, consider developing a system that allows you to consistently check in with members of your team to receive their feedback and suggestions. This can help you meet the requests of the professionals you supervise and consider their preferences.

  • Consider management training. One way to improve your professional competencies is to advance your education by completing management training. These programs may take place in-person or online and can help you network with like-minded professionals or learn new business strategies and management approaches.

  • Reflect on your successes and challenges. If you're interested in developing your skills, you may benefit from reflecting on what made certain projects or initiatives successful and what made others more challenging. This can help you recognize which of your professional habits may benefit from a change, and which aspects of your routine to continue executing.

How to highlight upper management skills

If you're applying for a position in upper management, you can feature your relevant skills throughout various aspects of the application process. Consider these strategies to help you highlight them on your resume, cover letter and during a job interview:

Upper management skills for resumes

When you add your upper management skills to your resume, you may decide to lead with your strongest abilities and competencies in order to capture the hiring manager's attention. Before writing this document, consider creating a separate list with all of your hard, soft and industry-related skills to help you evaluate all of your traits and talents. Consider reviewing the job description to develop a thorough understanding of your prospective employer's expectations. Add any applicable credentials or keywords to your resume to show the hiring manager that you're qualified for the role.

Upper management skills for cover letters

Including a cover letter in your application for an upper management position can allow you to provide a more in-depth description of the relevant skills and value you can bring to the organization. This document can help the hiring manager learn more about your relevant experiences and skill acquisition. You can also include your career goals and discuss what interested you in your prospective role. Adding anecdotes and information about your growth and development can show a hiring manager that you're dedicated to your career and professional advancement.

Upper management skills for interviews

In an interview, a recruiter may ask questions about your upper management skills and may be interested in assessing or examining them during the meeting. Consider using stories or examples to highlight your professional experience and discuss your leadership capabilities or excellent communication skills. This means it's typically a good idea to only list abilities that you're comfortable performing or talking over with a hiring manager. You may benefit from practicing any relevant skills prior to your interview to ensure that you're prepared to demonstrate or talk about them.

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