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Leadership & Management Skills

The following attributes are important skill sets every manager should possess.

Think about your direct leader/manager as you fill out this survey. The score will reflect their effectiveness. If you want to assess yourself as a leader/manager, fill out the assessment based on what YOU think of your management skills. You can also fill it out based on how you think your STAFF would rate you. The comparison can be very enlightening.

Be honest, your score is not stored anywhere.
Poor Great
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Hold efficient meetings that have clear outcomes
Communicate clearly and in a timely way
Delegate and let go
Create a culture where people are accountable
Use metrics to monitor progress and success
Resolve conflict quickly and easily
Prevent personality differences from getting in the way of the issue at hand
Total =

Leaders and managers
...are the key to an organization's success!

Competent management is what sets the tone (and the limits) for success. Further, there is a direct correlation between the skills and abilities of a manager and the contribution of staff.

The above assessment is designed to give an indication about the effectiveness of your management skills. Consider the following:

Score Interpretation
64 - 70 GREAT management skills - you are maximizing the contribution of your staff
44 - 63 Improvement would be helpful - your staff may not be able to fully engage with enthusiasm
29 - 42 Improvement is necessary - your staff are not able to meet their full potential
7 - 28 Urgent help is needed - productivity and profitability are suffering and your staff may be floundering

Read below for additional information about effective management.

Communication Skills


While we have spent many years learning how to read, write and speak, we hardly spent any time learning how to listen. Yet listening is as important of a skill as the others in helping us understand another human being.

Know how to listen. Listening is not just letting another person speak. It is having intent to gain a deep understanding of another person. Good listening allows you get inside another person’s frame of reference and view the world through that paradigm. You understand how they feel and think. Just like close to 90% of our communication is represented by our body language, good listening is characterized not only by our ears, but our eyes and hearts. You listen for meaning and for feeling.

The other person should be able to experience you, gain an insight of your character even as you listen. From it, that other person will come to instinctively trust you.

Human behavior indicates that needs that have been satisfied provide minimal, if any, motivation. The unsatisfied ones motivate. After the physical survival the next human need is physiological fulfillment – the need to be appreciated, validated and understood. You provide another person with those needs if you know how to listen well.

In a business setting the best opportunity to listen to your employees is during one-on-one meetings. Make the human element as important as the financial or the technical. Your ability to gain deep understanding of another person will help you gain great amount of time, energy and resources. When you listen you give the people who work for you physiological support. You inspire loyalty and integrity that go beyond just the basic requirements of the job.

In communication with colleagues and your boss, learn how to ask good questions and engage them by getting them to talk about themselves. Learn about their thoughts and feelings. That will also help you become a great conversationalist.

Clear communications

Many say that communication skills are the most important skills in our lives. This could be true, because most of our time, while we are awake, we communicate. We communicated in different ways – through verbal means, non-verbal means and visually.

Non-verbal communication is actually the most powerful. During face-to-face interactions, your body language has the most impact on the person you are talking to. The content of what you are saying accounts only for 7%:

  • 55% of impact is determined by body language—postures, gestures, and eye contact,
  • 38% by the tone of voice, and
  • 7% by the content or the words

Numerous studies indicate that only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30 percent is represented by our tone of voice and 60 percent by our body language.

Verbal communication

Verbal communication refers to regular speech and dialog between two people, or group of people.

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication refers to your body language and includes gestures, posture, facial expressions and eye contact. People also convey messages by choosing to wear certain clothes, having a certain hairstyle or deciding to do (or not to do) something. These nonverbal elements are part of our behavioral communication, which helps us express our needs, feelings and thoughts.

The nonverbal elements of the speech include your tone of voice, the emotion you attach to what you are saying and your speaking style. How fast or slow you speak, intonation and the words you choose to emphasize all have an impact on the listener. Similarly, you’ll find elements of nonverbal communication in the written content, which would include your handwriting style if it’s a hand-written document, structuring of your text or how you use greetings in the email and so on.

Nonverbal communication plays a key role in every person's day-to-day life, both at work and at home.

Visual communication

We communicate visually when we rely on use of certain visual aid to convey our messages. The most common examples are images, drawings, graphs and charts. Communicating with usual aid is often more effective because it increases the chances of the message resonating with the listener. Visual communication is often used in attempts to persuade another person is and is effectively used by someone who has good presentation skills (40). In using visual aid the important element is the audience’s ability to comprehend the information rather than the esthetics of the aid.

Effective communication

Face-to-face communication is an important part of workplace communication (40). Use this communication with others in situations when their verbal and non-verbal language is important in determining how you should respond. Such situations typically include:

  • Presentations to senior management or new clients
  • Brainstorming or analysis of complex topics that may require use of visual aid, use of drawings, etc.
  • Employee evaluations, personal, sensitive and confidential issues
  • Discussion of issues that have higher probability of being misunderstood if discussed in different medium
  • Contentious issues that generate significant amount of emails within your team

Face to face communication

Learn to be succinct:
Being brief and to the point is one of the most valuable communication skills. Often, the higher you move up within any organization, the more frequently you see how well the executives use this skill. They think before they say and then express their thoughts in brief and the most effective manner possible. Structure your messages with as few words as possible, while still ensuring you are getting your information across. They need to be brief and to the point.

Avoid using technical jargon, abbreviations or fancy words. This typically annoys the audience and breaks your connection with them. Those in the audience who no longer understand your message become confused and hesitant in replying, as they are no longer engaged in what you are saying.

Ask targeted questions to get results:
Part of being an effective communicator is asking precise and targeted questions. This skill will help you significantly in understanding what is happening with your team and exactly what is expected of you in your own assignment. Do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to if that helps you clarify the situation.

Learn how to ‘read’ others:
During your conversations with others learn how to take your cue from their behavior. Listen to their responses, but also observe their body language. If the person seems to feel uncomfortable, avoid talking about personal matters. At the same time, try to make your body language more inviting and open, which will make another person feel at ease. The easiest and most effective way to achieve that is by smiling. That will make your conversation with another person warmer and easier.

Use a positive tone:
Avoid being negative. It makes others feel defensive and reduces your ability to communicate with them. Keeping a positive attitude, on the other hand, and asking the questions in a positive way conveys to the other person your expectation of a positive outcome. For example, let’s say you made a mistake and are asking for the feedback from your boss. Instead of asking “What did I do wrong?” you can ask “What could I do differently next time?”

Communication on the phone

As in face-to-face communications, remember to be professional and courteous. Listen carefully, try to not interrupt and be direct and succinct in your communication.

Many people do not realize that our body language has an effect on how the other person hears you on the other end. Your enthusiasm, energy and the positive tone of voice could be enhanced if we did the following:

  • Use a quality headset. It will help you reduce fatigue, free up your hands to take the important notes and allow you to stand and move around while you are talking
  • Standing up during the conversation will help your body language become more confident and project that strength and conviction in your voice.
  • Smile when you say “Hello” and “Good Bye.” Not only will that help you remain positive, but the energy will be clearly felt in your voice, leaving another person with a positive impression.

If you need to leave a phone message, make sure you are prepared to do that. Be ready to leave a message even before you dial. Adhere to the same principles of communication as in face-to-face situations – clarity and brevity. Try not to exceed 20-30 seconds. State your name, company or department, your title and the number to reach you at. Speak slowly and clearly, because the person picking up the message will likely be writing the information down. Toward the end of the message, try to increase your energy. Finish on a high note, with enthusiasm and passion. If necessary, replay and re-record.


Email has become one of the main mediums of communication in today’s business. It is good to know, however, when emailing is the right way to communicate your message. Some subjects, particularly those where gauging somebody’s body language would help you tailor your response, are better handled face-to-face or by phone. Typically, email is ideal for the following:

  • When you need to share a document or a report, or share the information with multiple parties
  • When you need a written record of communication
  • When you don’t want to the recipient on a spot and let him think about the issue before his response
  • When you’re unable to reach a person in any other way
  • When you try to avoid the person for one reason or another (you don’t have time for small talk but don’t want to offend him)
  • When time differences create inconvenience

Email format :
The most effective emails are short and to the point. Long emails often overwhelm the recipients, and end up at the bottom of their queue. Such emails often do not fit on one page and require scrolling. That’s why many experts suggest limiting emails to just about three-four paragraphs, or less. If there is no way around you sending a longer email, try doing one of the following:

  • Send your long message as an attachment. Include a few sentences in the body of the mail explaining what you are sending.
  • Learn to use bullet points rather than narratives, particularly as related to central points of the email
  • Remembering that most people primarily read the first paragraphs and often scan the rest:
  • Include the most important point in the first sentence (or paragraph)
  • Make your email call for action, again either at the very beginning or at the end. Again, this is for those who like to scan.
  • If you forward an email string to others, make sure the preceding discussions are relevant to what’s at hand. Otherwise, delete and leave what’s relevant.

Sometimes you’ll need to provide feedback on a list of questions or points. The best way to do it is by hitting ‘reply’ and then use different color to reply to each individual point in the body of the original message (blue or red are common colors). This will help senders avoid scrolling up and down from their original question to see your responses.

Compose a clear and targeted subject line. Your goal is to tell the recipient the purpose of your email and to make his interested in actually reading your email. Today, many companies use anti-spam software, which picks up the following words and phrases, so try avoiding to use them in your subject lime:

  • Free
  • Your order
  • Sale
  • Incredible
  • Limited time only

Stay professional:
Keep all business correspondence formal even if you have friendly relationships with your co-workers and clients. First, these messages reflect on your professionalism. Some recipients may forward them to others, or print and pass them along to other businesspeople, who may not know you as well as the original recipients. You may not know where your email may appear. Keep it professional and formal.

Just like with traditional emails, follow the basic rules of curtsey and professionalism:

  • Use traditional salutations such as “dear” and “hello” and closing remarks like “best regards” or “sincerely”
  • Use clear and proper English. Avoid using jargon or slang.
  • Avoid using abbreviations or contractions that may not be understood
  • Do not use all capital letters. First, text consisting of words typed in upper case is more difficult to read. Second, words spelled in upper letters indicate shouting. That may appear annoying to the recipient.
  • End your emails with your name
  • Check for misspelling

Take a moment to read what you composed. Often, print the draft and reading it on a paper helps provide a fresh look at the content. Remember that the way you communicate is a reflection of your professionalism. Typos and misspellings may indicate your lack of attention or care.

Other norms:

  • Try to cc- only those on your emails who really need to know
  • Take care of privacy of your contacts. If you send an email to a large group of people, use a blind carbon copy feature (Bcc)
  • Do not overuse the ‘urgent-message’ flags

Precautions with using Emails:
Email can also be dangerous. When you send an email, particularly something of sensitive nature, double-check the “to” line to make sure you are sending it to the right person and that you didn’t click “respond to everyone” by mistake if you are replying to one person on a group email.

Make sure you never respond to anyone – colleague, customer or your boss - when you feel emotional. In most cases this results in a negative outcome. Take some time to cool off and get back in the right frame of mind. If you need to “unload” the weigh off your chest, try the following:

  • Open a new email. Don’t put any recipient name in the “to” line
  • Start writing whatever you want to write. Think of it as a draft
  • Do not send it. Save it in the Drafts folder.
  • Try to relax, mediate, or work on something else. See if your emotional level is back to normal (wait till next day if necessary).
  • Open the draft and re-read it again. If you still feel that the response in the form you drafted it is justified, go ahead and send. If, on the other hand, you start to feel somewhat ashamed for reacting that way, you have just prevented possibly ruining an important relationship and likely saved yourself the embarrassment of having to apologize for your behavior.

Studies have shown that over 50 percent of people using email say their messages have been misunderstood. For instance, your boss sent you an email when he was rushed. As a result the message was short. You may translate it as if he was displeased with you. In other instances, jokes that sound funny when said in person may appear insult in writing. If you have a doubt about how the email will be interpreted, play safe and don’t send it.


At the center of a principle-centered leadership is cooperation and synergy. It helps catalyze and unleash the greatest powers within people. High trust situations that are part of good team cooperation helps eliminate defensiveness and protectiveness.