What Soft Skills Managers Need Most
As a manager, it has never been enough to be technically adept. You have to excel at soft skills as well. Soft skills are the personality traits, attitudes, habits, and behaviors you display when working with others. While good soft skills are also important for employees, they are critical for managers - and for those who want to be managers. Here are the ten most important soft skills managers need to master.
Top Soft Skills For Managers
- Dependability: Can you be depended on to be where you need to be, to do what needs to be done, to do what you say you will? Your boss must be able to depend on you or you will not get ahead. It is equally important that your peers and your subordinates believe they can depend on you too. Without that, they will not give you the support you need if you are going to be successful.
- Candor: Tell it like it is. Don't sugar coat things. Don't say what you think the boss wants to hear. I respect people, above and below me, who are candid. I don't have to waste time figuring out what they really mean.
- Work Ethic: You were hired to do a job. Do you do it or do you sit back and watch others work? Are you the hardest working person in your group? If not, you ought to be.
- Communication Skill: How well do you communicate with your boss, your peers, your subordinates? Are you able to communicate as well in writing as you are verbally? If you have any weakness in this area you need to work to improve or to eliminate it.
- Community and Teamwork: A lot has been written about the need to demonstrate your ability to work well with the other members of your team. It is a skill that is becoming more important as we move toward more cross-functional teams. But it is also important that a manager build community. Don't just be part of your team, but understand how it fits in the larger organization and work to strengthen those connections.
- Time Management Skills: The one resource a manager will never have enough of is time. To succeed as a manager, it is vitally important that you develop, and continually improve your skill, in time management. In addition to the ability to prioritize and to delegate, which reduce the number of things you have to do, you have to be able to maximize what you do get done in the time you have.
- Goal Setting: Good managers are able to determine what needs to be done and to set goals to get there. Don't just drift through the day dealing with what lands on your plate. Prioritize. Figure out what needs to be done and set specific goals for yourself and for your team.
- Mental Agility: When hiring, I always look for the candidate who is one step ahead of me in the interview because that person will be the same way when hired. These people catch on quick. They understand business in general and their industry in particular. They are critical thinkers and problem solvers.
- Flexibility: We face changes every day. Laws and regulations change. Competitors release new products. Disasters happen. Good managers have the flexibility to deal with constant change. Good managers expect change and plan for it. As a result, they are better prepared for unexpected changes. Their flexibility lets them react more quickly and minimize the disruption change can bring.
- Takes Direction Well: As much as managers are valued for their ability to figure out what needs to be done and get after it, there are still times when they need to be told to do something. Whether it is a change in strategic direction or coaching regarding their performance a good manager has to be able to not only accept the directions, but to do so with a positive attitude, and learn from them.
The Bottom Line
Your technical skills may be what got you noticed and promoted, but they are not enough. To succeed as a manager you need to be as talented in your soft skills. In those areas where you have a well-developed skill, keep it up. In the other areas, work harder to improve. That's how to improve your chances for success.