10 Essential Management Characteristics
You Need for Business Success

See also: Motivating Others

If you own and/or run a business, it’s critical that you have the ability to lead from the front. Strong management skills can make all the difference between commercial success and failure, between having a motivated workforce and an unproductive team.

However, unless you’re blessed with an innate sense of leadership and somehow instinctively know what to do, there are skills that you must absolutely acquire. True, some leaders are born, but just like the great nature-nurture debate, this doesn’t mean that important leadership skills can’t be learnt and honed, just like any other ability.

Our advice is to find yourself a good management training organisation that offers a wide range of courses and programmes teaching essential management and leadership skills, such as iManage Performance, to enable you get the most out of yourself, and your team.

We’ve put together 10 essential characteristics that we believe every great business leader should have.

1. Learn to Lead by Example

Ruling under the motto ‘do as I say, not as I do’ is possibly the quickest way to alienate your department or team. Good business managers who are intent on motivating their workforce don’t simply issue instructions from above, they practise what they preach: they roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, showing their team exactly what they want them to do. It’s called leading from the front and it’s one of the best ways to inspire respect.

2. Treat each other as human beings

Managing your company’s human resources is a different skill to being in charge of financial resources – the clue is in the name. You need to be able to care about your team and see each member as an individual with his/her own needs and requirements, goals and desires, hopes and dreams. The ability to empathise is a powerful management tool that will help you match the person with the job, and maximise productivity and job satisfaction.

3. Learn cultural intelligence

While business acumen and management experience will take you a long way in the corporate world, the ability to deal with people across social divides and social settings is an important soft skill that shows your human side. Since we are becoming increasingly entrenched as a society on a global scale, it’s vital to learn to understand, appreciate and leverage our personal and cultural differences to facilitate effective team working.

4. Empower your staff

Once you understand the individual strengths and weaknesses of each of your team members, you can deploy them not only in a way that benefits the business but in a way that best befits their professional skills. What’s more, great managers should also be able to recognise their own limitations, and will happily and confidently delegate to those better equipped to lead a particular task or project where it is in the best business interest to do so.

5. Honesty and Transparency are Key

If you really want to command the respect of your workforce, there’s no way round it: you must be straight with them. No doubt you’ve come across the concept of mushroom management – keeping everyone in the dark while feeding them manure? It’s a major reason for staff unhappiness. Honesty is a hugely valued (and sadly underused) commodity in the workplace, but rumours and speculation will sow seeds of doubt and distrust among the team.

6. Be authentic and real

Above all, don’t be afraid to be yourself. In this sophisticated age of personal branding and stakeholder engagement across all levels, business leaders who come across as fake, narcissistic, self-serving or secretive will have an uphill battle on their hands. Instead, practise globally recognised positive values such as openness, empathy and trustworthiness that are essential to build trust and connect with your team and the wider corporate world.

7. Take a flexible approach

Rather than taking a rigid view of how you think things should be done at the office, it is a useful exercise to explore a variety of working practices to get the job done. As they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat. From flexi hours to part time working, job sharing, zero hour contracts or using freelance workers, it pays to keep an open mind and be flexible in choosing whatever methods work best for everyone concerned.

8. The benefits of accountability

Great managers don’t shy away from taking responsibility for their actions. If there is a problem, they will do their best to identify the cause of the problem so that lessons can be learnt for the future rather than simply blame individual culprits for mistakes or poor performance. They will also understand that the buck ultimately stops with the person in charge. On the upside, accountability also means that any successes will be shared and celebrated with the whole team.

9. Patience is a virtue

Patience is an often underrated management trait, but it’s an essential ingredient in being able to cope in our fast paced, high pressure, performance driven workplace environments. Whether you’re having to take extra time to onboard and train up a new employee, patiently negotiate with a difficult-to-please client or wait for overdue results to come in, the ability to take a step back from the brink and assess the situation with calm composure is a huge management strength.

10. Have the courage to take decisions

Finally, whatever tasks you may decide to delegate, it is your job as a manager to take important decisions to move the business forward. As a leading executive, you are not only expected to have a firm vision of where the company is headed, it’s your job to make it reality. Rather than dodging difficult choices in the vain hope that by doing nothing everything will somehow turn out OK, have the courage of your convictions, based on the available management information, to take charge of driving the business forward.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

A wise person once said ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Whether you’re in charge of a small team, a large department or the entire operation, it’s crucial that you learn to respect the power you hold and use it to the best of your abilities. Developing your leadership skills will help you become the person you need to be in order to do your management role justice, for the good of the business and everyone in it.

About the Author

Dakota Murphey is a writer based in Brighton, specialising in management training and effective workforce behaviours. Having authored pieces for numerous online and print magazines, Dakota has undertaken numerous studies to discover how managerial styles and practices can positively business impact productivity.