The Essential Manager: 10 Core Elements of Leadership

Most good managers are made through practice, and not born, and the really great ones are those who look at what skills they need and then go about developing them through a personal improvement plan until they are second nature. A quote from Vince Lombardi sums this up perfectly when it comes to building and honing your leadership skills “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

Here are ten core competences that you should look to develop if you want to be an effective manger.

Develop your vision.  Every world class manager has a vision, whether they are supervising a tiny team or a global organisation, effective managers have a clear sign of where they want to go and how they want to get there.

Develop your communication skills.  It’s absolutely no use whatsoever having the most inspiring and uplifting vision if you never tell anyone about it. Developing your ability to communicate what you are trying to achieve will pay dividends many times over. Using excellent communication skills enhances your ability as an influencer and helps you to build relationships.

Build relationships. Great managers build relationships, not just with their direct reports but also across the business. Developing effective working links leverages information and knowledge so that the effectiveness of teams is greatly increased.

Spend time in continuous professional development. Staying current, both technically and in a wider strategic sense builds depth to a managers’ professional persona. If a manager is constantly surprised by external developments then it doesn’t tend to breed confidence in their staff.

Adopt a professional manner. This is more about personality than skills, but managers need to be leaders and not members of the gang. One of the hardest things to understand and master, it’s a fact that a manager promoted from the ‘shop floor’ must make sure that they are not seen as ‘one of the lads’.

Learn to team build. Building a team isn’t simply taking a group of people out once a month for some team bonding activity. Building an effective team requires consideration of the skills and attitudes you want to see and then either developing or recruiting people to fill that role.

Learn to manage information. Managing information doesn’t just mean organising facts into a report. Higher level management skills require critical thinking, research and critical questioning of detail. Understanding the major themes and being able to ask cogent and focused questions is a key management ability.

Develop your emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and empathise with the way that your team members, peers and manager see the world and how they are feeling on a given day. Understanding how people like to be managed, how they react to stress and how they display their own emotions is a sign of a great leader.

Develop an open mind. No- one has all of the answers and it is important to be able to take other views and information into account. Work on ways to take soundings, not just about important decisions but also the little things. Teams feel more valued if they are included in decision making and adopting this improves your own decision making ability

Develop a succession plan. It’s comforting when we go on holiday and it seems like the place falls apart because we’re away. The problem is that this is particularly poor both from a business point of view and from the career aspect. A business needs to be secured so that the risk of one employee leaving is hedged and they can be safe in the knowledge that things can still go on. But thinking about it from a purely personal point of view; imagine being up for a promotion but losing out because everything falls apart just because you are away. Great managers develop great deputies and when they get the call to move up to the boardroom the business can be confident that there will be little or no adverse impact.

Donal Whelan avatar
Managing Director
+353 1 661 0444