6 Critical Management Skills for Leadership Success

Creating an exceptional team which produces quality results takes commitment, focus, and drive. Great leaders have high expectations of themselves and others. As a leader, you need to be consistently looking for ways to improve overall productivity and team performance.

Here are the six skills you need as a manager to ensure you are getting the most from your team.

Maintain Industry Knowledge and Expertise

As a leader and manager, you are required to understand what it takes for your team to succeed and achieve company goals. This means staying on top of industry trends, company policies, shifting corporate politics and goals, and the job duties of your employees. It doesn’t require that you are the technical expert on all the tasks your direct reports perform, but it does require you understand the general duties and what it takes to accomplish their tasks. If you lack expertise in any area, utilize your network to gain the knowledge and information from the experts that do.  By doing so you will be able to…

Manage Employee Performance

Your employees depend on you for your guidance, leadership, and coaching. It is your job to be able to accurately and fairly provide the feedback they need to improve performance and reach their highest potential. Feedback should never be a once a year thing (aka annual performance review).

Regular meetings should be scheduled and kept so your employees aren’t blindsided if they receive a scorecard that they weren’t expecting. Establishing a process for creating development goals and regular touch points to determine progress is important to ensuring employee engagement and progressive employee development. When you do meet, make sure you cover both the tangible (company required goals) as well as their professional development targets.

For new employees, you may be meeting much more regularly than with longer term employees. I’ve found that when I first hire someone, I may be meeting with them daily to provide training, allow for questions, and establish an open communication channel. Once the employee is clear and succeeding in their tasks, the meetings become less frequent and less formal. But don’t let more than a couple weeks pass before checking in to find out if there are any resources needed or roadblocks cleared for them to meet their targets.

Support Professional Learning and Development

As stated above, managing performance includes helping your employees create professional development goals. This doesn’t mean you should enroll them in courses or find external programs for them. It does mean sharing with them if there is an employee reimbursement program for taking external courses or if you do have an internal corporate learning department, sharing relevant classes and allowing time off to attend. It also means following up after the course and finding out if there are other ways you can provide support. This may include having them provide a brief summary at a team meeting so others can benefit from their knowledge and can help them develop the invaluable skill of public speaking.

Delegate Effectively

Part of Supporting your employees’ development is assigning them tasks which will stretch and expand their skills. This doesn’t  mean only delegating admin or busy work from your desk. It means thinking about your employees’ development goals and determining which projects, meetings or tasks that you own which you can pass on. It may only be one or two tasks from a project and not the whole thing. The point is to make sure that whatever you do delegate tracks back to the employee’s development plan. When you delegate, make sure to explain why you think this task or project is important for their growth. There are the right and wrong ways to delegate. If you have been unsuccessful in doing so in the past, consider taking a course in this vital skill.

Share Your Decision-Making Process

Strong leaders have the ability to make good decisions. As a leader, it’s your job to consider all the different factors involved before making a decision. This includes determining how this decision impacts your department and the company as a whole. Once you’ve made a decision, sharing this with your team including the thought process you employed in doing so will instill confidence in your team that you have considered all possible impacts. They may not always agree, but they can get behind your decision and will be able to articulate to others the thought process behind it. This also shows the process they need to use when making decisions as well.

Conduct and Evaluate Research

Let’s face it. Business is moving at the speed of light. In order to stay ahead or at least in line with the rest of the pack being able to conduct and evaluate research is vital.  Being able to determine which new software, product, or service can drive your company further ahead from the competition will ensure your company stays solvent and successful.

Becoming an exceptional leader relies on your ability to be pro-active rather than reactive. By developing these six managerial skills, you’ll find yourself being more proactive and therefore more successful as a leader.

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