Key Management Skills Every Leader Should Work On

In order to lead teams and help organisations achieve their goals, leaders need to hone a number of key management skills. They can learn or polish up on these skills through two avenues; by enrolling in various management courses or by learning through experience on the job. A combination of both is optimal.

According to social and organisational psychologist Robert Katz, management skills fall into three categories;

  • Technical skills – These are learned capacities in a given field. An example is mastery over a certain type of software.
  • Conceptual skills – These refer to the ability to understand a given context and to present ideas and solutions thereafter.
  • Interpersonal skills – This category of key management skills deals with the ability to work cohesively with other people across the organisation, both superiors and subordinates.

The key management skills below cut across these three categories.

Communication skills

In the course of executing their tasks, leaders will find that they are charged with communicating with a number of people; from their teams to their bosses to suppliers and other groups of people. It is important to hone this key management skill because miscommunication can lead to missing of goals, amongst other problems.

In order to get desired results, leaders should keep in mind that communication is two way and that listening is integral. To elevate this key management skill, leaders can work on; keeping their messaging simple, engaging listeners and availing clear channels for feedback.

Conflict resolution

Despite your best intentions, it is inevitable that conflict will arise in the workplace. The reasons can be from disagreement over ideas, personal issues to plain old exhaustion. As a leader, conflict resolution is one of the key management skills that you will rely on to maintain harmony and keep everyone on task.

You will be required to adapt this skill to different people and different environments. A good grasp of emotional intelligence, good listening skills and an ability to remain fair complement this skill.


Another key management skill a leader should master is delegation; the act of assigning some of what would be your work to other people. The benefits of delegation are numerous. First it frees you up to do more pressing work and allows you to focus on other areas of both business and personal growth.

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Second, it signals to the people you have delegated to that you trust them. This can be great for morale. It shows your team that you value them and prioritise their growth. It can give them a chance to polish a skill.

It can also help them realise what they are good at and work as a sort of preview of what it might be like in a new role. In addition, delegation can expose areas where employees might need to improve and give them a chance to do just that.

Motivation skills

Don’t take it for granted that your team will go along with what you say just because you’re their leader. They need to be inspired and be given a good reason to. This is good for the organisation as well because motivated staff are reported to be more productive than those just going through the motions.

Motivation is one of the key management skills that requires a leader to be dynamic and flexible. What might motivate one person might not work for the next. With a bit of creativity, an eye on the company culture and an awareness of the different personalities in the work place, leaders can motivate different people to work together to accomplish a common goal.

Decision making

Managers make numerous decisions on a day to day. This key management skill can lead to the success or failure of an organisation or project. Managers need to weigh the opportunity cost, various options and employ predictive tools. The more long term the effects of a given decision, the more information a leader should have before they settle on a given course.

Once the decision is made, leaders need to be ready and willing to face the consequences of that decision, even if those consequences are not positive. As a matter of fact, how leaders responds in the wake of a bad decision can affect how their teams relate with them.

A positive attitude

Following closely on the heels of the previous point is a positive attitude. As a leader, your team looks to you for direction and your attitude is very likely to affect them. This means that when the company is faced with negative news, you should be able to reassure your employees if you plan for work to continue and for goals to be met.

This key management skill can also be felt in your interpersonal skills with your team members, particularly when they make mistakes. Approach mistakes as a positive occurrence and turn them into a learning experience both for yourself and the employee.

Key management skills

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Project management skills

Project management is one of the key management skills that cuts across all fields. A leader needs to know how to manage the teams or the people in charge of the teams across the initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and closing phases.

Overseeing a project might call for all three of Robert Katz’s management skills. It could require a technical competence for instance the knowledge of a given software. It will also involve a competence in conceptual skills and in interpersonal skills.

Collaboration skills

Collaboration has far reaching effects. Managers who have an eye for collaboration are able to recognise that the output from a group might be better than from an individual. In addition, they will be adept at building teams because they are able to match people with complementary skills.

That’s not all, it is one of the key management skills that gives a leader an edge as a negotiator. They are able to see what they can get out of and what they can bring to a partnership.

In summary

While there are industry specific technical skills, managers across all fields benefit from mastering any of the discussed key management skills. These skills help a leader steer their team and company in both times of success and through crises. The effect of properly executing key management skills can be felt both in the organisation and by external stakeholders.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.