Skills Managers Need That Might Surprise You

See also: Critical Thinking

There is no denying that to be successful manager involves many skills, but do you have all of them? Let’s take a look at some skills managers need for the role that you might not have known about.

Whether you have just started out in your management career, or have been working in the field for a while, one thing that you will have almost certainly learned is that there a number of skills that you need in order to make a success of a management role. Whilst some of these skills might seem rather obvious, there are others of which you may not have been aware that you need in order to lead your team.

Before we look at skills that a manager doesn’t know they need, let’s look at the skills that it is widely acknowledged are very important for the role.

Do you have all of these? Or do you need to brush up on them?

The Skills You Know You Need:


Some people are born with the qualities that make them a natural leader, however for many it can take a little guidance and training to harness this skill. Leadership skills and techniques can be learned and are vital if you want to stand out and achieve success. If you want to be able to lead your team, manage external suppliers and liaise with higher management then this is one skill you must have.


A good manager can communicate on all levels and by many mediums. A key part of being a good communicator is the ability to listen to everyone in your team, allowing them to put forward ideas and listening to what they have to say. Communication is not just verbal it is important that you can communicate on a written level with everyone on your team as well and on any platforms that are used in your business.


As good as your communication skills might be, a good manager needs to be able to negotiate, pushing back when needed or negotiating alternatives if things cannot be done as required. You must be able to negotiate and make changes ensuring that no one feels they have lost out.

Negotiating can sometimes mean dealing with conflict, whether between team members or other parties involved. This means keeping everybody calm and focussed on the problem, rather than allowing things to become personal with the business goals firmly at the front of anything you do.

Critical Thinking

The ability to be able to think independently and create impartial solutions, not just follow the pack or make decisions solely in reaction to something that has happened or you are told about is important.  Being able to question and make evaluations from your own thinking will help you get the best from your team.

Scheduling & Task Management

This is one of the key skills that any manager needs, the ability to break down work that needs to be accomplished into timelines and tasks - and distribute the tasks accordingly. If you are not able to keep on top of managing the tasks involved in your business, then it all risks going horribly wrong.

The Skills You May Not Realise You Need

Sense of Humour

It may seem rather obvious, but a sense of humour is a very valuable skill that can really help to differentiate between any manager and a truly effective manager. Not only does releasing those “feel good” pheromones help relieve stress and reduce tensions, it can also raise morale and a lighter mood can do wonders for the work rate of a team.

Occasionally. the different perspective a sense of humour gives can lead to answers you might not have otherwise discovered.   Engaging with the team on a lighter note can have surprising results and will certainly make for a better working environment, which will ultimately be good for the team and, therefore, for your career as a manager. Laughing together can make even the most tiresome task easier to bear.


Whilst there is no denying that the business world can be fast paced with project deadlines constantly looming, a good manager will have the patience to believe in the members of their team to meet those project deadlines without having to constantly keep on their back to get the job done.

The communication skills and the ability to listen that we already talked about will make you more approachable so that team members will be more inclined to let you know if they are unlikely to meet deadlines. Having the patience to wait for them to come to you is a skill that can require practice but in the long run will pay dividends when it comes to keeping your team working together towards a common goal. If you lose your patience and panic, then the rest of the team may pick up on this and crack under the added pressure.


Keep up to date with technology changes, be prepared to change the way you interact with your team and outsiders.  Technology is constantly advancing and staying ahead through continuing professional development means a successful manager should not be afraid to update, change and grow.  You may need to study further, let technology advancements be your friend and keep you ahead of the game.

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.

And, Finally…

In order to be a successful manager, it is vital to have a broad skill set, and one that is not necessarily limited to the most obvious management skills of communication, leadership and the ability to be organised. It is also important to know how to juggle all those skills when they are needed in order to keep not only the members of your team productive, but also your stakeholders as well.

The right set of skills will allow you to adapt to any project and any unexpected issues that it might throw up, those things that you were not expecting and that could potentially lead to you missing important deadlines. No matter how long you have been working in management, attending training courses can be a good way of honing the skills that you have whilst developing new ones.

About the Author

Anna Preston has had a varied career from Project Management to Customer Relationship Management to Business Management Consultant. She has worked for a range of clients, large and small, to help them understand and exploit the increasingly complex data available to businesses.