Four key skills successful managers have in common

By Emil Hajric

Managing people is a skill that comes naturally to some, while others have to work hard to master the main aspects of what can be an unavoidably tricky task. Being able to assess an individual’s ability to manage others successfully is especially important from an HR perspective. You will need to establish what attributes a great manager brings to the table so you can work towards uncovering them during the recruitment process.

To make this simpler, we have listed the 4 key things that successful managers have in common, so you know what to look for in your next round of interviews.

1. Employee Empowerment

A manager should take seriously the task of giving employees the leg-up they need, to be effective and successful in their own positions. If someone feels supported and empowered they will flourish, whereas if they feel like they are being stifled and held back, their output will reflect this.

It is perfectly acceptable to ask candidates for examples from their past that demonstrate their interest in employee empowerment. Have they helped a promising member of staff to fulfil their potential, or championed any specific training and mentoring schemes with this in mind?

On the flip side, if an interviewee is applying for a manager position yet shows little interest in people and talks mainly of furthering their own career, this could be a sign they are not ideally equipped for the role.

That is not to say that successful managers need to mollycoddle their workers. Instead, they should provide them with the necessary tools to operate optimally. This can include knowledge based software and other digital solutions aimed at improving productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

2. Unrestricted Communication

A manager should be approachable, agile and responsive in their interactions with employees. In fact the vast majority of their working day will involve communication, in one form or another.

Creating a culture of open communication, collaboration and engagement will bolster employee performance and boost morale. Conversely, if staff feel like they can’t speak out if they have a problem, idea or suggestion, this will create disgruntlement and result in missed opportunities. This is why almost three quarters of employers look for strong communication skills in candidates for positions of all levels. Yet unfortunately just 23 per cent of employees are happy to raise issues with their managers.

Working out whether or not someone is able to communicate effectively seems straightforward in the context of an interview, but there are other areas to consider. Candidates need to show that they are able and willing to use modern tools that streamline communication and boost productivity, such as Impraise which facilitates the exchange of feedback.

3. Perennial Patience

Being decisive and eager to act can be seen as an asset in some circumstances, but successful managers are not usually people who succumb to one-off whims or get swept up in the heat of the moment. They need to be able to control their emotions, sitting back and taking stock rather than rushing into anything. This is important because decisiveness can leave others feeling ignored, overlooked or deliberately snubbed. In contrast, a patient manager will not only win the trust and respect of employees, but is also less likely to make mistakes fuelled by a lack of foresight.

This can come down to personality, since there are people who are naturally patient, to the point of being passive. However, people who are aware of their desire to forge ahead while also showing a willingness to curb this impulse are often better able to achieve success as managers.

Patience also applies to conflict resolution, which is something that managers are often called upon to handle. Listening to every angle and opinion and then stepping back and taking the time to think it all through before coming to a conclusion is much better than acting on instinct and potentially making a major mistake.

That is not to say that you should be a pushover; various pieces of evidence suggest that a bit of forcefulness can often be a great tool for managers to deploy. It is a case of knowing when to become impassioned and when to make a strategic retreat.

4. Willingness to Trust

Managers can quickly slip into the trick of micro-management controlling every aspect of their team or department. The problem is that a desire to micromanage is often perceived as a lack of trust in employees.

Successful managers, on the other hand, will be more discerning with their involvement, making correct assessments of individuals under their stewardship and working out who can be trusted to deliver the goods without assistance and who needs a bit more scrutiny to avoid mistakes.

The most important part of showing trust to employees is that this will also be reflected back to the manager. Building a working relationship based on trust will lead to better communication, while also making it easier to iron out any problems when they inevitably arise. Ultimately this will lead to employees become more competent and autonomous. If people believe in themselves, this will be reflected in their performance. Ensuring that the people you manage know that you see them as capable members of a successful team will provide a big psychological boost.


Knowing the top 4 skills successful managers have in common - regardless of the industry they occupy or the size of their team - will give you a good idea of what to look out for, either when recruiting or promoting internally.

This should not only influence your approach to recruitment, but can also inform other aspects of HR. For example, you can aim to foster the aforementioned skills by providing access to training schemes to managers who are already onboard, or pointing prospective candidates in the direction of the best courses to help them improve their employability going forwards.

Giving credence to the advice of management experts and specialists in this field will make it simpler to recruit the most talented and skilled individuals. It is easier to spot success and potential in others if you understand the parameters that define it yourself.

About the author: Emil Hajric is the Founder of Helpjuice, a leading knowledge management platform used by large and medium-sized enterprises. He is an expert in knowledge management & author of Knowledge Management: A Theoretical and Practical Guide for Knowledge Management in Your Organization.

Photo by from Pexels