Robert L. Katz's oft-quoted 1989 piece from the Harvard Business Review suggests that management skills can be reduced to three categories: technical skills (relating to the profession), human skills (relating to other people) and conceptual skills (relating to the larger picture overview). These categories reflect both the broad range of skills managers require and the difficulty in pinning down specifics, which usually depend on the nature and function of the company or team.
Managers need to be able to delegate work to others, and to do it effectively: this means both identifying what needs to be done and identifying the best people to do it. The best managers don't take all the work on themselves, but recognise where their expertise and support will be most valuable. They know when to give someone else a hand and when to leave well alone. Managers must also be able to make tough choices about how to split resources to achieve particular goals.
As a leader of men and women, a manager needs to be able to motivate herself and those around her. She must be disciplined and manage her workload, while at the same time ensuring her team are meeting their potential. A team that lacks motivation isn't going to achieve the required results and can easily disband or fall short -- the responsibility of ensuring that motivation is in place comes down to the team manager.
A manager is responsible for ensuring development, whether personally, in a staff team or in a company as a whole. The manager must have the skills to make sure everything is moving forward. This can involve helping team members become better at what they do, improving the profits and revenue of a business, learning new skills on a personal level or pioneering a company's expansion into new markets.
A good manager always communicates well, whether it's with staff members, clients or partners. A manager needs to be able to let team members know exactly what's required of them, to be able to promote a company's products to outsiders, and to be able to give useful feedback reports to those higher up the management chain. The ability to be able to communicate in different ways depending on the audience is crucial.
While team members may toil away on the individual cogs within a larger machine, the manager is responsible for seeing the big picture. This involves understanding the current state of play and having the acumen to plan out what happens next. The skill of being able to take a break from the day-to-day tasks and instead take a longer-term view is an essential requirement for a manager, and one which the rest of the team will be relying on.
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