A great manager understands how to get the best from employees in any situation and provides a communication channel between the workforce and senior management. Effective leadership requires the same key skills whether you’re working in shipping or retail – and, as most leaders are made not born, it’s possible for anyone to acquire the skills required to lead well.
Key skills for new managers
1. Organisational abilities
Leadership often necessitates creating schedules or plans, effectively organising the workforce around them and then implementing those plans into existing structures. This requires a good understanding of the business and the organisational ability to plan and implement effectively.
2. Strong communication skills
Being able to communicate is key for any manager, not just with the team working for you but also with those in more senior management positions. Being able to communicate involves clearly expressing ideas but also being able to voice expectations, opinions, feedback and needs. The most successful managers are able to clearly communicate goals, requirements and standards and also have a powerful ability to persuade.
3. Genuine leadership
There are multiple elements involved in real leadership, from assigning tasks within the team to defining goals and establishing a clear vision for the entire team to work towards. Some of the more challenging aspects of leadership can revolve around problem solving and giving staff clear feedback, even when it is not all positive.
4. Change management
The business world is a place of constant change and learning to be flexible in the face of that change is a key skill for any good manager. Adaptability is crucial to ensure that, no matter what arises, the team has direction and motivation to keep moving forward. Effective change management is always underpinned by a sound understanding of the business and its processes so that, particularly in situations of great stress, the right decisions come almost automatically.
5. Maintaining a tight team
Teambuilding is probably one of the most often underestimated skills that an effective leader can possess. Learning to manage the balance between competitiveness and collaboration helps to avoid conflict situations and capitalise on the natural energy that exists in a team environment. Great managers know how to cultivate their team, to identify and deal with potential issues before they arise and foster trust and collaboration between team members so that everyone feels relevant, appreciated and heard.
6. Business knowledge
It’s crucial for any manager to have a sound understanding of their role, the objectives of the team and the role of the team within the broader business. This can help to reduce duplication of work, wasted time through misunderstanding and is key to motivating employees to feel part of the business. This kind of knowledge also has a crucial role to play in ensuring employees understand the business culture and buy into its values.
Every leader is different but these six key skills provide a firm foundation for anyone looking to build an effective management career.