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Essential Skills Managers Need for Long-Term Career Success


A great manager leads and inspires employees, motivating them to perform at their best. Effective managers build relationships and supportive, creative work cultures that foster collaboration, teamwork and innovation. Managers who thrive through challenging times excel in the critical and analytical thinking needed to make data-informed decisions and solve complex problems.

These attributes of good management rely on well-developed interpersonal, strategic and technical skills. The online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program from Lamar University includes courses designed to help professionals master these critical skills, preparing them for success in high-level management roles.

Here are six of the most important skills for modern managers to master:

1. Communication

Sources like Indeed, BusinessBecause and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) all include communication among lists of top skills for professionals, MBA grads and business leaders.

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) annual corporate recruiters survey also shows that communication and related interpersonal skills are top skills that employers seek. Numerous courses in Lamar’s MBA online program provide the needed preparation, focusing on communication and related interpersonal skills in business, leadership and cross-cultural contexts. The online program equips graduates with communication skills that apply to a variety of industries, departments and functional roles.

Managers must have excellent verbal and written communication skills to clearly articulate expectations, goals, feedback and other information to employees. Managers must also communicate clearly with top leadership, reporting on progress and listening to directions and feedback.

Communication and interpersonal skills like active listening and empathy are central to fostering trust, relationships and team cohesion. These aspects of positive work environments support employee engagement, motivation, job satisfaction and loyalty. Good communication skills are also essential for building strong relationships with other colleagues, business partners and customers. These relationships are fundamental to a manager’s and a business’ success.

Simply put, communication underlies everything managers do to perform their jobs well. It is also a building block for many other top managerial skills.

2. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving involves several interconnected skills and attributes like strategic, analytical and critical thinking, as well as creativity and decision-making. These skills are among those that employers value most.

Managers must address all types of issues that arise. They address complaints or concerns from staff, customers, colleagues and business partners. They remediate operational inefficiencies and translate vague company goals or directions into actionable plans and tasks.

Regardless of what issues need to be solved, managers must accurately identify problems, gather and analyze available information and create effective solutions. This process requires drawing insight from all resources (data, employees, experts, research, etc.) to inform and make effective, strategic decisions. It also means evaluating implemented solutions in an ongoing manner, revising and iterating changes as needed.

3. Data Analysis

In the era of data-driven business, data analysis is a crucial component of problem-solving, strategic planning and decision-making. Managers must understand how to interpret and leverage the wealth of data available to inform decision-making, optimize operations and drive productivity.

Plus, with data analysis competency, managers can use advanced business intelligence tools, enterprise resource planning software and other technology that is reshaping modern business.

4. Negotiation

As Inc. puts it, “If you’re a business owner or leader, you need to know how to negotiate. This is non-negotiable.” Negotiation is central to resolving employee conflict, figuring out terms for business contracts, setting up compensation structures, delegating responsibilities and many other managerial tasks.

Being a good negotiator involves careful planning, clearly outlining negotiation goals and strategy. But the best negotiators also strive to understand the other party’s motivations and goals, seeking an agreement that balances and best serves the interests of all involved.

5. Leadership

Leading people is the core of what managers do. Hence, developing leadership skills and an authentic leadership style is necessary for managerial effectiveness.

Effective leadership is a composite of skills and qualities. It involves excellent communication and interpersonal, relationship and decision-making skills and, above all, the ability to inspire employees to work toward a shared vision and goals. Good leadership fosters trust, motivation, engagement and teamwork, creating a company culture that benefits both employees and business outcomes.

6. Resilience

BusinessBecause notes the importance of resilience for today’s business leaders. Just as resilient business models help businesses weather disruptions and uncertainty, stability helps managers overcome challenges.

Resilience involves practicing self-awareness by thinking critically, reflectively and constructively. When things go wrong, leaders need flexibility, versatility and agility to navigate challenges that arise. Setbacks are opportunities to learn, grow and continuously improve.

These skills and qualities help managers lead teams effectively, address and solve problems, make informed decisions and improve outcomes for their businesses. They are all transferable skills applicable to leadership roles at all levels across industries. Developing these skills through study and practice prepares management professionals for long-term career versatility, upward mobility and success.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online MBA program.


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