14 Management Skills Every Good Manager Should Know

Management skills are essential for any ambitious leader. Whether you are an entrepreneur, current manager or soon-to-be manager, we have created a guide of the top management skills to help you on your leadership journey.

How to Be a Good Manager

A good manager needs to have three basic management skills in their professional toolkit. Let’s review them here:

Strong Leadership Skills: You don’t have to be a natural-born leader to be an inspirational manager. Leadership can and should be learned. As a leader you need to have strong influence and a desire to make an impact on the people around you. Learn our basic leadership skills in our primer:

Strong Interpersonal Skills: Managers constantly are communicating with others — whether that’s hiring a new employee, solving conflict or trying to bring together a team. It’s incredibly important for managers to have exceptional interpersonal skills. Dive into our interpersonal primer here:

Strong Body Language Skills: Didn’t expect to see body language on this list? Here at the Science of People Lab we believe that nonverbal intelligence is an essential skill for every manager. You need to know how to both decode other people’s nonverbal cues and control your own. Start with our body language primer here:

What Makes a Good Manager

There is no perfect recipe of management skills to make a good manager. However, we can get pretty close.

As lead investigator at my human behavior research lab, Science of People, I have worked with thousands of managers from companies all around the world. From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses to sole proprietor entrepreneurs, I have found that there is one common trait of a successful manager.

A good manager, or rather, a GREAT manager is obsessed with potential. They feel they have great potential to change the world AND want to activate that potential in others. I have put together my top management skills for activating potential in your team, your colleagues and yourself.

To your success,

signature analysis

Vanessa Van Edwards
Author of the best-selling book Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

How to Warm Up a Meeting

As a manager you will lead lots of meetings. It’s crucial that you set up yourself and your team for success. Here’s how to prep for an amazing meeting:

  1. Meeting goals. What are your meeting goals? Is this a creative meeting or a strategic meeting? Do you want people to bond or be productive? Knowing your goals is an important first step.
  2. Meeting warm-ups. Athletes warm up before a game. Musicians warm up before a performance. Why don’t professionals warm up before meetings? Every good manager should not only think about the agenda of a meeting, but also the warm-up.

3. Agenda. Set your agenda for the meeting and send this out to attendees. This is important because it helps people mentally prepare for the meeting AND makes sure you use the time efficiently.
4. Post-mortem. What needs to happen after a meeting? This could be assigning to-dos. But it also could be thanking a meeting attendee for a great idea or participation. Don’t underestimate the power of the follow-up.

How to Manage Employees

Being an effective manager means understanding and relating to your employees. The most important management skill you can hone is your ability to decode personality. A team can have many different personalities in the mix. How do you balance them? How do you leverage them? In my book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People I teach managers how to decode someone’s personality using the Big 5 personality traits. This is the only science-backed personality framework in the industry (Nope, colors, Myers-Brigg or Enneagram have not been proven true). Learn how to decode your employees and your own personality!

Increase Your Influence

To be a great manager you have to hone your own influence. This is done a few different ways. First, you are contagious. Your moods, ideas and feelings are contagious and can affect your team (in both good and bad. See the video to see how:

Need to get yourself psyched up before a meeting? Need to make sure you are positively contagious? You also might try incorporating one of our pre-performance rituals into your prep routine.

How to Manage Difficult Employees

Do you have a difficult employee? This might be one of the hardest management skills to master. Depending on what type of difficult employee you have, here are a few resources to manage them effectively:

Learn How to Manage a Team

Being an effective manager is one management skill. Learning how to build and run a team is another. There is a science to effective team-building that you need to know to encourage a cohesive and productive team.

    Be a Manager Coach

    The best managers are both bosses and coaches. They know how to inspire their team members to be great individual contributors as well as integrated team members. But how can a manager learn to coach and motivate their employees? Here are 3 steps to get you started:

    1. Learn our 5 Research-Backed Coaching Strategies to Turn Your Team Into All-Stars
    2. Use the Expectancy Effect: Improve Performance With This Human Behavior Quirk
    3. Get Motivated with our 10 Self-Motivation Tips — and show up as an inspiration to your employees.

    My Single Best Team Building Exercise

    This is my absolute favorite management skill on this entire guide! Right now, put a team building meeting on your calendar to do this exercise. It will help you identify your team’s strengths, weaknesses and skill gaps. It’s also a great way to bond! Set aside at least an hour to do this on your next retreat or monthly meeting.

    Manage Up To Your Boss

    You might be lucky enough to be your own boss — but likely you have someone to answer to above you. Great managers know how to manage up. Having a strong relationship with your boss is essential to being a good manager for your team. First, learn how to decode your boss’s behavior and personality.

    Second, you should know how to snap your boss out of a bad mood. You know what I mean…when your boss is in a bad mood it ruins everyone’s day! Learn how to change it.

    Be an Exceptional Interviewer

    As a manager you likely will be building your own team. This might mean hiring candidates through screening interviews, phone interviews and intake interviews. How should you interview? We have compiled a list of the 10 best behavioral interview questions that will help you get to know someone’s behavioral needs before bringing them onto your team.

    Virtual Team Management Skills

    Have a virtual team or any remote workers? You might need special management skills. If you have a semi-remote team, you are going to need to work extra hard to build team cohesion and emphasize easy distant communication. Our team at Science of People is remote and we sat down to share our strategies with you.

    Know How to Sell Your Ideas

    Managers have an interesting line to walk. They must be able to pitch ideas to their own team AND sell their ideas to their superiors on their team’s behalf. Whether you are in a sales role or not, you should understand the science of sales. In fact, we have 6 new rules of sales that help you sell your ideas and sell yourself without being inauthentic or scammy.

    Leverage Gender Differences

    If you have a team of both men and women, you should learn how to leverage our gender differences. There is some fascinating science on the differences between men and women at work. One of the best management skills you can learn is knowing how to understand and work with gender.

    Improve Your People Skills

    You never know what kind of interpersonal situation you will be put into as a manager. Will an employee need a shoulder to cry on? Will you need to let someone go? Are you having office drama between two employees? This is why it is essential that you have high interpersonal intelligence or PQ.

    Further Reading On Management Skills

    How to Be a Good Manager: A Guide for Every Personality Type

    I’m obsessed with personality science. I have written extensively about introverts, extroverts and ambiverts, the unique strengths of each, and how those can be leveraged for success. But never before have I examined how personality science can make you a...

    How to Negotiate (With 12 Science-Backed Strategies to Win)

    If you had to pick a metaphor for a negotiation, which would you choose: A. Going to the Dentist B. Playing a Game Your choice here is important–do you see negotiations as a necessary evil OR as a fun challenge? It’s time to start thinking about negotiations as a fun...

    How to Be More Creative at Work, With Sarah Moyle

    In this episode of our series, The World’s Most Interesting People, I sat down with Sarah Moyle. Sarah is a Creative Catalyst and Visual Storyteller.She’s a self-taught graphic recorder and a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator (yep, that’s using LEGOs for...

    12 Non-Awkward Team Building Activities That Build Trust

    One of the hardest parts about working on a team is finding ways to connect, build trust and bond. This is why non-awkward team building activities are one of the best ways to kickstart your group. These team building activities can be used for: Work teams Sports...

    How to Network at a Conference: 10 Ways to Make Contacts Like a Pro

    Have you ever been to a conference or trade show and felt like it wasn’t worth the effort or the time or the money? There are so many business conferences out there, it’s important that if you are going to take the time away from work to attend a conference, you know...

    7 Strategies for Virtual Teams and Remote Workers

    We have a very special video for you today! I’m here with my Science of People team to discuss tips on how to encourage, support and motivate a remote team. As you can see, our team works virtually—everyone in their own space instead of a local office—and...

    How to Psych Yourself Up Before Your Next Big Thing

    Before every show, TV host Stephen Colbert has a ritual. And it's a little superstitious. He rings a little bell in his bathroom. As he walks toward the stage, he waits for one of his writers to tell him, "Squeeze out some sunshine." He does a two-handed shake with...

    Music and Productivity: How Music Can Make You More Productive

    Do you have the perfect playlist? Not all playlists are created equal! You need one for every work pace: Peak performance playlist Deep work playlist Cool down playlist Let’s say you have a big meeting, interview, or negotiation and you need to pump yourself up. You...

    Permission to Screw Up with Kristen Hadeed

    In this episode of our series, The World’s Most Interesting People, I sat down with Kristen Hadeed. Kristen is the founder and CEO of Student Maid, a cleaning company that hires students. Kristen is also the author of Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned...

    How to Become a Networking Master with Jordan Harbinger

    In this episode of our series, World’s Most Interesting People, I sat down with my friend Jordan Harbinger to discuss his tips on how to become a networking master. Jordan is the host of The Jordan Harbinger Show podcast.  Meet Jordan Is networking a skill...

    10 Best Interview Questions to Ask In Your Next Interview

    You have an opportunity. Great interview questions help you… Reveal someone’s true personality Speed read a candidate quickly Build rapport that lasts Your questions might be even more important than a candidate's answers. A great interviewer uses key behavioral...

    The 15 Best LinkedIn Profile Tips To Make Your Profile Pop

    You may have a LinkedIn profile — but do you actually leverage it? I want to share with you my 15 best LinkedIn profile tips so you can: Find great work Make more money Build an incredible network It’s estimated that one in three professionals on the planet are on...

    Building Your Professional Relationships with Rand Fishkin

    In this episode of our series World’s Most Interesting People, I sat down with Rand Fishkin. Rand is the founder of SparkToro.com, Moz and Inbound.org.  He’s also the author of Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.  Meet...

    The 10 Questions Every Interviewer MUST Ask

    Hiring is hard. Finding good people is even harder. In this post, I want to give you the best structure for interviewing and the best interview questions. Everyone hires in some way shape or form. Whether you're are a parent, entrepreneur or homeowner you have to have...

    Business Card Ideas: 5 Ways to Make Yours Awesome

    You have an incredible opportunity to supercharge your first impression and your business. It's small, but packs a punch... it is: Your Business Card! Most people think about their elevator pitch, their LinkedIn profile, their outfit, but they don't put all that much...

    What is an Intrapreneur?

    Do you fantasize about becoming an entrepreneur but love the company you’re working for and would hate to leave it? You don’t have to start your own business to have an entrepreneurial career. Instead, become an intrapreneur. The term “intrapreneurship” was first...

    Managing Up: How to Decode Your Boss’s Behavior

    Do you struggle to understand your boss? If you’re working for someone whose actions and demands are a source of frustration and confusion, the problem likely lies not in their behavior, but in your lack of understanding of the personality traits that...

    Take Your Management Skills To The Next Level

    Science of People can help you take your passion for learning to a new level. Check out our professional training options.

    As Featured In