Soft skills for managers: 10 essential soft skills to be a better manager

Good managers know that there’s more to their role than decent money and an impressive job title. They are always willing to learn and sharpen a certain set of soft skills that enables them to boost productivity, encourage their staff to be the best version of themselves and create and maintain a positive work culture. In this article, we’ll look at ten essential soft skills all excellent managers possess.

Top 10 soft skills for managers

1) Communication 

Communication is a highly sought-after skill in the workplace but is also a handy skill to have in life. Being able to share thoughts and ideas with employees and listening to feedback is essential to becoming an outstanding manager. Simply put, Strong communicators make better managers. 

On the other hand, managers who haven’t learned the crucial soft skill of communication risk alienating their employees and can even make them feel under appreciated.

2) Empathy 

Studies show that empathy is the most important leadership skill. An empathetic manager makes genuine connections with others, provides support, comprehends their needs, builds trust, and creates long-lasting relationships. 

Showing empathy to your employees involves actively listening to any issues and ideas they have. But empathy isn’t only about listening to words. It’s also about observing body language, as 93% of communication is nonverbal.  

Empathetic managers can read the room and see if a member of their team is worried, stressed or upset. They can also resolve conflict more effectively by listening to both sides of the argument and by putting themselves in their employees’ shoes.  

3) Confidence

Effective leaders typically exhibit a certain level of self-confidence. People with self-confidence recognise and capitalise on their strengths, praise and reward employees, stay in control during stressful periods and show themselves and their employees compassion.

Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong, confident managers look on the bright side, set attainable objectives and understand and accept that things go wrong in business. These qualities inspire employees to be their best selves in the workplace and steer the company in the right direction. 

4) Motivational skills

A manager with strong motivational skills inspires staff to put in extra effort, maintain concentration, and accomplish or surpass company goals and objectives. Being a strong motivator involves setting clear goals, effectively outlining tasks, and positively communicating expectations to make employees feel energised and valued. 

But keeping staff motivated goes beyond feel-good speeches. It’s about rewarding them for their efforts and work, showing recognition and appreciation with feedback sessions, paying attention to any problems or concerns and even mentoring staff through challenging times.

5) Conflict resolution skills

Conflict between employees can break out in both large and small organisations, and it’s your job as a manager to handle them with empathy, active listening and mediation skills.  

Conflict resolution skills are a combination of many soft skills, such as communication abilities, problem-solving skills, confidence and motivational skills. A manager with these skills can ease tensions between conflicting colleagues by showing patience, respect, understanding and, if appropriate, even a bit of good humour.  

6) Adaptability

Flexibility and the capacity to adjust to any circumstances are two of the most sought-after soft skills for managers, as technology in the workplace and the workplace itself seems to be changing more than ever.

Being able to adapt to change makes it easier for you to deal with challenges at work, come up with creative solutions, lessen the stress that any changes can cause among your coworkers, and rapidly learn any new procedures or technologies.

7) Time management skills 

Time management skills are crucial for all managers as they must get a good estimate of how long certain tasks will take and correctly delegate work.

Employees are much more likely to respect a manager who has everything under control than a manager who always appears rushed, stressed, and distant. 

Time management skills can be broken down into smaller soft skills such as delegating work that managers know they can’t fit into their diary, organising their days based on workloads and avoiding distractions. If you’re not naturally good at managing time, you can utilise time management software, keep a schedule and figure out the hours of the day when you’re most organised. Remember, a few setbacks are normal, so stay calm when things don’t go to plan.

8) Attention to detail 

Companies value managers who pay attention to detail because they can help their team produce error-free work ready to be sent out to clients. 

Attention to detail involves organisation, diligence, time management skills and the patience to review tasks, no matter their size. However, paying attention to detail doesn’t mean focusing solely on the small stuff. It requires looking at the bigger picture and correctly handling the situation when things don’t go to plan. 

For example, If you keep finding mistakes in an employee’s work, use your communication and empathy skills to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Perhaps the employee needs more training on the subject and feels too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. Be an approachable manager and consider the difference between diligence and micromanagement.

9) Critical thinking 

Critical thinking is a soft skill that enables managers to grasp the complexity of projects and their employees to achieve the best results. It involves logical reasoning, open-mindedness and, much like empathy skills, the ability to see things from several different angles.

Managers need critical thinking and soft skills to anticipate how employees and tasks will affect the company as a whole, make complex decisions with confidence, evaluate information without bias and make decisions based on facts rather than emotions.

10) Self-motivation

Employees have the luxury of looking to you for motivation, but you have nobody else to motivate you but yourself. As a manager, you have to look deep inside yourself and identify what motivates you in the workplace. 

You might have intrinsic motivation and feel inspired by learning new skills, improving workflows or sharpening your existing skills. Or, your motivation might be driven by results. This type of motivation comes from the feeling of satisfaction you get when you and your employees complete a task to a high standard and can send your clients your best work.

The bottom line 

Being an excellent manager requires a range of soft skills such as empathy, communication, motivational skills and much more. If you feel that you’re missing a few of these skills, don’t stress. Managers are only human, after all.

There are lots of things you can do to develop your soft skills, such as taking one of our free personality questionnaires on our Joy at Work platform and finding your strengths and areas for development. 


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