21 Skills of a Good Manager

Updated March 28, 2023

A good manager does more than oversee products, tasks and output. Strong managers effectively lead teams by developing a skill set that empowers others.

In this article, we discuss 21 skills of a good manager and how using them can encourage employee engagement, productivity and a satisfying work environment.

Best skills of a good manager

Here are 21 management skills that can help you be a more effective leader:

1. Communication and interpersonal skills

A manager's ability to relate and communicate effectively can unify and motivate a team. Whether the communication is formal or informal, written or verbal or team-oriented versus individual, communicate in ways that make your team comfortable. Texts, emails, phone calls and conversations in person are all important methods of communication.

Good managers know when to adapt their own communication style to the situation or person. The more successful you are at strong communication, the more likely your team is to complete tasks on time, achieve success and reach the company's overall vision and goals.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Listening skills

Actively listening is just as important as other communication skills. A good manager values, respects and appreciates their team's insights and ideas by fully hearing what they share. Listening more also helps you understand critical information better, and it can build connections and trust when problems may arise.

Related: Improve Your Listening in the Workplace (With Tips)

3. Relationship-building skills

Managers should make connections with their team to establish credibility and encourage camaraderie. The success of a manager depends on the success of their team, and cultivating sincere relationships reveals more about team members and how their skills and personality can best suit work tasks and goals. Great managers are authentic, take a vested interest in each team member and take time to establish good working relationships.

4. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence in a good manager includes exercising fairness, empathy and sensitivity. Emotional intelligence can help you identify a coworker who is feeling overwhelmed or burned out. A compassionate leader gives support and may put provisions in place to help a struggling employee, such as offering a work-from-home day, arranging a flexible schedule or reminding them about services and policies that are there to help.

Emotional intelligence in a leader also means having the self-awareness to recognize their own emotions and reactions, be objective and show restraint and understanding.

Related: 5 Ways To Develop Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

5. Organization and project management

Organization is an essential part of project management, and both skills require seeing both the big picture and the finer details at the same time. The ability to outline a project, assign tasks, foresee obstacles and find creative solutions, meet deadlines and show stakeholders a plan to succeed are crucial to excellent management.

Related: 20 Skills Every Project Manager Should Have

6. Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is the ability to plan for the future, generate ideas and implement strategies for success. Good managers consider likely scenarios, plan for potential complications and find ways to mitigate or avoid risk.

7. Decision-making

Managers often have to make many decisions throughout a workday or workweek, some more critical than others. Successful choices help a team and company run smoothly. Effective decision-making requires thoughtful consideration without overthinking or becoming sidetracked by minor details.

8. Trustworthiness and respect

Managers can build trust and respect with their team by offering honest advice and welcoming feedback. They seek the team's input and ideas and appreciate all points of view, even those that differ. Respected managers honor confidentiality among employees for sensitive topics and are forthcoming and honest during difficult scenarios or when delivering unpleasant news.

9. Teamwork

A manager is both a team leader and a team member. It's important to know and appreciate what it takes to get the job done and keep the team in mind when making decisions that will affect team members. Teamwork fosters loyalty, higher morale, efficiency, creative thinking and comprehension. Good managers support and encourage collaboration within their team and across others in the department or company.

10. Team orientation

Managers should observe their team and get to know each individual in order to utilize their strengths or find ways for them to grow and develop. An effective manager who knows their team well finds unique talents and adjusts roles to capitalize on the particular capabilities of each person.

11. Problem-solving

An excellent manager notices and resolves issues. From a problem with a production order to a dispute between colleagues, there are many issues that managers may need to address. Your ability to find the best way to handle an issue can help you distinguish yourself as a manager and also give confidence to your team. Great managers think ahead and expect risks, then brainstorm solutions and determine the best option.

12. Conflict resolution

All workplaces experience conflict, and a skilled manager can recognize conflict and deal with it swiftly. Unresolved issues can affect employee performance or morale, so it is best to de-escalate or resolve conflicts as soon as possible.

Navigating challenging discussions like layoffs, negative performance reviews or missed deadlines is also easier when you understand conflict resolution.

Related: 9 Key Steps for Conflict Resolution at Work

13. Time management

Time management involves more than just being on time. Knowing what to work on when, how to prioritize projects and setting realistic timeframes to complete tasks are all part of good time management. A manager's role is multi-faceted, and honing your time-management skills can make you a leader better.

Managers who fully grasp time management establish routines around certain tasks, such as spending the first half-hour of the business day responding to emails, scheduling team member check-ins weekly or approving budgets consistently on Wednesdays, for example.

14. Delegation

Delegation is the management skill of assigning tasks to others and giving them the authority to accomplish those tasks. Knowing which person to pass a task to and the tasks people already have is also part of successful delegation, and it may involve re-assigning tasks to someone else. Good delegation skills lead to more efficiency and productivity, and they can also build accountability and responsibility within a team.

15. Motivation

Motivation skills include being able to elicit a desired behavior from a team or specific employee. An outstanding manager can empower and inspire their team by adopting the right motivators. Motivators can include sales competitions, incentive and bonus programs, treating the team to lunch once a month or simply thanking them for the work they do verbally or in a quick email. A company's culture, overall team personality and internal circumstances affect what the best motivators for employees might be.

16. Recognition

Good managers offer recognition because praising the team helps group morale, keeps employees engaged and makes them more likely to stay at that workplace. Milestones are an opportune time to provide recognition, though many employees also appreciate unexpected thanks for everyday duties.

It's important to be consistent with recognition and know the value of appreciating both the entire team and the individual contributors. Great managers refine recognition to match what matters most to the employee. A personal shout-out at a meeting might motivate one person, while a one-on-one meeting with the manager might be good for someone else. An award may motivate another team member, or sharing a customer compliment may help another.

Related: A Guide To Meaningful Employee Recognition

17. Confidence

Confidence is an important management trait that often comes with experience and practice. An effective manager supports their decisions and their team with confidence. Leadership development opportunities can help you build confidence. Try reading books about leadership, taking online training or coaching classes and attending work-related seminars and conferences.

18. Vision

Having a clear vision and effectively presenting it to the team is important as a leader. Good managers share their vision with team members, keep the end goal in mind and outline what steps it will take to achieve a goal. Revisiting goals, objectives and outcomes weekly, quarterly and annually can help you make sure the vision is still on track.

19. Functional skills

An effective manager knows the various software, operational tools and equipment used within their team and company. These may include computer programs, spreadsheets and organizational methods. Having the ability to use the same tools or complete the same tasks your team is responsible for builds credibility and allows you to help during an emergency or unexpected situation.

20. Technological skills

Managers need to stay current with relevant new technology trends and learn ways to use them for their team, projects or clients. Implementing an app that drives employee engagement, a new platform that organizes project timelines and costs or a business-to-business program can help you remain effective. Staying up-to-date on new tech offerings drives innovation and could help you reach business goals sooner.

21. Adaptability

The business world constantly evolves, and a manager's willingness to grow along with it keeps them relevant, competitive and innovative. A good manager is often open to new ideas or ways of doing things and views change as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

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