As a manager, you understand that you are never at a point where you can simply stop learning new skills. No matter how high your profits were last quarter, they can be better. No matter how efficiently your workforce operates, they can always be led better. Part of being a great manager means that you will need to spend extra time becoming more than what you are. The time spent learning key management skills is often the difference between someone who makes a career out of being a manager and someone who doesn't. Thankfully, the broad strokes of these concepts can be put across in very simple ways.
Major Management Skills
A manager needs to be versatile, intelligent and willing to approach issues head-on. However, this doesn't mean that an effective manager should be bull-headed in his or her approach to managing. In the world of business, there are five major skills that differentiate a manager from a non-manager. The amount to which these skills have been developed often plays a large role in how far a given manager will rise within an organization. These skills can be simply broken down into political skills, conceptual skills, interpersonal skills, diagnostic skills and technical skills.
Political Management Skills
Whether you are developing connections within your organization or with another, politics plays a major role in being a manager. Managers need to know how to effectively build and manage a base of connections to help establish their power. In the workplace, this often equates to managers being in tune with the politics of the office to avoid stepping on anyone's toes. However, this can also be applied to the broader issue of sales and even competition. In today's interconnected world of business, there is no way to be an effective leader without having a broad range of contacts.
Conceptual Management Skills
As mentioned earlier, managers need to be able to deal with many different types of issues at any given time. Due to this, managers need to have the ability to analyze complex situations quickly to provide an effective response. Since these problems can't really be prepared for in any realistic sense, managers are usually selected based off of a displayed ability to "think on their feet." The ability to look at a very large problem, break it down into pieces and find the most effective response is a difficult skill to develop.
Interpersonal Management Skills
Many argue that the need for interpersonal management skills can trump a few of the other skills listed here. Interpersonal skills are absolutely essential for anyone who wants to become a manager at some point in his or her career. To put it simply, interpersonal skills encompass a managers ability to respectfully and effectively work within and lead groups of people. A manager who clams up over the tiniest bit of small-talk will have a hard time being a leader. Aside from the simple "comfort" of dealing with people on a day to day basis, interpersonal skills are important when it comes to actually leading employees.
When a manager has strong interpersonal skills, he or she is able to easily recognize the skills and weakness of employees. This allows the manager to better delegate responsibilities to the appropriate employees when it is necessary. Since managers are also often looked upon as mentors to less-experienced members of the staff, the ability to effectively lead by example is key here. After all, a manager is only necessary because of the other people in the office. Employees don't need a monitor as much as they need someone to effectively lead them.
Diagnostic Management Skills
Diagnostic skills go almost hand-in-hand with the conceptual skills listed above. While conceptual skills are used to better understand a problem, diagnostic skills are used to find a way to effectively solve the problem. In this way, diagnostic skills and conceptual skills are two sides of the same managerial coin. Of course, diagnostic skills aren't only used to help find solutions do difficult problems. Any issue that crops up at a workplace can be easier to deal with when a manager has strong diagnostic skills. The key is to develop the ability to use these skills quickly and without the need for long deliberation.
A manager is expected to be a quick study and a great leader. However, he or she is also expected to be an expert in his or her field. Most customers expect to be speaking to an expert when they speak to a manager. At the very least, they expect to be talking with someone who can help them with any problem they may have. The same can be said for employees, since they look to the manager for leadership and knowledge when things get tough.
A manager needs to have the technical expertise necessary to be regarded as an expert in his or her field. This means that a manager should always either have an answer or know exactly where to go to find one. It's OK for a manager to not know everything, but it's generally understood that a manager should never say "I don't know" if he or she wishes to retain the respect of employees. This doesn't meant that a manager should simply make up answers to important questions on the spot. However, it does mean that a manager should know how to quickly find answers to any questions he or she may not be familiar with.
Developing these Skills Takes Time
Great managers are not born. Great managers are developed over time, with the experiences they have in the workplace acting as a guide. There are a lot of ways to update managerial skills beyond simply practicing these skills at work. Seminars and classes abound that are geared toward helping managers develop and refine their leadership skills. In the end, it's just important for any manager to understand that constant development of these skills is pivotal to being an effective, respected manager.