Every successful manager needs a strong set of interpersonal skills, but most leaders aren’t born with all of them. Rather, becoming a great manager means continuously challenging yourself to develop your leadership skill set. To help your employees strengthen their performance and enhance the results you get from your current team, you need to be able to inspire your employees and build a strong relationship with them through seven essential skills.

It’s vital to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a manager to determine where you need to improve. Consider which of the following essential qualities you already possess, and which ones you can further develop. 

Act decisively

Strong managers know how to make decisions with confidence. They carefully weigh the options, but they don’t deliberate indefinitely. They also strengthen their decision-making abilities by consulting with the right people, getting the best possible input to help them. Further, they strategically plan, preparing for big decisions well in advance whenever possible. They announce their decisions with conviction, building support for their choices.

Manage stress effectively

Great managers handle stress with grace, navigating difficult situations with poise. They trust their ability to find solutions to any problem. They set themselves up for success by leveraging resources that can help them deal with challenges, and they don’t procrastinate on taking action. By acting swiftly and effectively, they lower their stress level. 

Coach others

The best managers are adept at motivating employees and keeping them engaged in their work. They help each member of their team to believe in their own abilities and push themselves to tackle new challenges. Through supportive and honest feedback, they help employees discover the path to improvement. By showing they trust them to achieve results, they inspire employees to trust their own abilities as well.

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Hold themselves accountable

They take ownership of their mistakes, examining what they could do better in their role as team leader. They also hold themselves accountable for fulfilling all of their commitments to their team and organization. They tell their direct reports how they personally aim to improve and when they intend to complete important tasks, modeling both humbleness and responsibility. By doing so, they show awareness of how their own actions affect the whole team. Their employees benefit from watching their growth trajectory, which gives them insight into how to take accountability themselves.

Be transparent

Great managers are upfront and straightforward with employees. They keep them up to date about the company’s long- and short-term plans, as well as any challenges it faces. Maintaining this level of transparency helps all employees to feel like an equal and valued part of the team while inspiring trust in their organization.

Actively listen

Strong managers genuinely listen to people, seeking to understand their concerns and find answers to them together. They ask open-ended questions that invite detailed feedback and then take action on it. As a result, employees feel they can always turn to them with questions and ideas, strengthening communication channels. Further, if a breakdown in communication occurs between employees, a great manager can effectively mediate it with the help of excellent listening skills.

Manage their time efficiently

The best managers balance all the important priorities in their schedule, staying disciplined about how they use their time. They block out time for their core priorities so they always stay on task. They understand how to say no and how to delegate when need be, keeping their task list manageable. In turn, employees look to them for guidance on how to manage their workload as efficiently as possible. 

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As you reflect on your abilities, determine which skills in this list you excel in, and then choose the top two or three skills you most need to develop. Over the next several months, work to practice those skills in specific ways. For instance, if you want to practice your active listening skills, think of several insightful questions you can ask an employee before your next one-on-one. If you wish to hold yourself more accountable to your team, look for opportunities to communicate your key priorities and responsibilities. Over time, you might find yourself doing those things without even thinking about it. 


As you work to master these skills, you’ll see your overall aptitude as a manager increase dramatically. Your direct reports will appreciate the support you give them through these qualities, and they just might be inspired to develop them as well!