14 Top

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.

Vanessa Van Edwards Research Lab

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.

…too deep? Try our 5 basic interview questions instead.

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.

How to Remember Names

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.

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

12 Reliable Tips for Managing Remote Employees [2021]
I've been working with remote teams and hosting virtual training sessions for 15 years. Here are my top 12 insider strategies for managing remote employees.
The 8 Laws of Power: How to Get Power Using Science
Want to know how to get power in your personal and professional life? Here are my top 8 strategies to launch your power out of …
35 Fun Meeting Icebreakers to Warm Up Any Meeting
When people hear “meeting icebreaker,” they think of ”bonding exercises.” In this post I share 15 meeting icebreakers that are anti-boring and easy.
17 Easy Ways to Make Your Meetings Better
Do you dread meetings? You might be making one of the top 7 meeting mistakes. Don’t worry! I am going to go through each of …

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