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The Dynamite Dozen: 12 Skills of Effective Managers

Do you recognize these skills in yourself? Would others see them?

Excellence as a manager isn’t something reserved for a select few “born leaders.” Anyone can become an effective manager! Invest the time to understand and practice these 12 essential skills, and see the results in your own confidence and competence as well as in the people you manage.

12 essential management skills to master

1. Emotional intelligence. Being able to recognize and understand other’s emotions as well as your own is not only an essential management skill but also an essential human skill. It helps improve communication, problem-solving, trust, credibility and relationships within the workplace—and beyond. Learn more about building emotional intelligence here and here.

2. Taking ownership. Ownership is about taking accountability for the consequences of your decisions. That includes what happens and what doesn’t happen as a result of your decisions. Effective managers act beyond their own team and self-interests. They never say, “That’s not my problem.” Dig a little deeper here.

3. Effectively communicating. This skill is about making connections—actively listening, speaking clearly, concisely and confidently, and checking for understanding as you go. More here and here

4. Embracing and leveraging diversity. Respecting other ways of thinking and communicating and purposely seeking diverse perspectives is key. Effective managers are able to leverage these differences. They recognize the unique strengths of individual team members and, most importantly, put them to work.

5. Implementing measured responses. Knee-jerk reactions are something effective managers know how to avoid. They slow down their thinking to question and reframe automatic reactions and make a thoughtful, appropriately measured response.

6. Managing conflict. Conflict is inevitable. But managing tough conversations and helping to solve interpersonal conflicts between team members is a must-have management skill. Check here for some conflict resolution tactics.

7. Coaching the team. Effective managers think of themselves more as coaches who help people succeed than as overseers who tell people what to do. Coaching involves providing guidance, motivation, support and appreciation for each member of the team as well as the team as a whole. Here’s an example of great coaching in action.

8. Planning effectively. Planning is a continuous process that involves having a clear vision and intent for where the team is going. Achieving the vision and getting where the team needs to go is laid out in a series of goals. And because even the best-laid plans can meet unexpected roadblocks, it also includes contingency planning.

9. Mindfully delegating. So much more goes into effective delegation than simply assigning tasks. Assessing your team to know who to delegate to, setting clear parameters, communicating necessary information, not micromanaging but knowing when to intervene…these are all factors. Above all, realizing that delegating doesn’t mean giving up ownership is key.

10. Prioritizing. Knowing what needs to be done, and in what order, based on value, impacts, costs (money, time, negative effects) and relevance to business objectives is central to productivity and performance. Skillfully managing the three T’s—time, treasure, talent—is critical. Get some tips here.

11. Problem-solving. Getting to the root cause of problems and providing solutions is part of every manager’s job. Effective managers approach the challenge with curiosity and are skilled at evaluating processes and breakdowns to target where and how to intervene.

12. Developing your team. Team development encompasses virtually all of the previous manager skills—communication, coaching, empowerment, emotional intelligence, etc. It also means challenging your team to try new solutions and think differently. Inspiring and advocating for your team, supporting their career development, and passing along your own management skills is perhaps a manager’s greatest legacy. Explore the characteristics of high-performing teams


Ultimately, understanding and refining these 12 skills of effective managers is an investment in your own growth and development as a leader. Be honest as you evaluate your skills against these. Where do you excel? Where do you need to improve? Take charge and take action for yourself and for the teams that rely on you.

Our Management Essentials learning program helps leaders reach their full potential, including mastering these 12 skills. Learn more.

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