As an executive coach, I spend a lot of my time nurturing the talents of high-level business leaders. Sometimes, though, I have the pleasure of meeting with ambitious professionals who aren’t quite as advanced in their careers, yet already have their eyes set on prestigious positions. One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from these folks is: What are the leadership skills I need to move into a business management role?
Let me start by clarifying what I think is meant by business management… or at least, how I’m using the term here. When we talk about business management, we’re talking about roles that give you direct responsibility over other employees. It might be a small team of just one or two other people, or it might be a much larger department.
Either way, I do think there are some leadership skills that are essential for succeeding in a business management role. These skills will equip you to advance your career; to take on more and more responsibility; and ultimately to add real organizational value.
What follows isn’t a comprehensive list, but I do hope it will be useful to you.
Important Leadership Skills for a Business Management Career
When you have responsibility over an entire team or department, it means you’ve officially reached the point in your career where you can’t do it all yourself. You need to know how to allocate responsibility to other team members, and how to hold them accountable for their results.
2) Problem solving
What happens when your team isn’t accomplishing what it needs to? When a big project blows up, you fail to hit a key benchmark, or you simply observe some inefficiencies? One of the most valuable leadership skills is being able to clear-headedly locate problems and lead your employees in brainstorming some fixes.
3) Setting a vision
Vision-casting is critical, because it’s the way you align your team to the same set of goals and the same common purpose. Note that this involves formulating a vision and then conveying it to your team in a way that makes everyone feel like they’re included.
4) Performance management
When you’re in a leadership or management position, the buck stops with you; in other words, you can expect to be held at least partly responsible for the performance of your team members. Being able to monitor, evaluate, and course-correct your employees is crucial. Also, make sure you know how to furnish team members with the resources and infrastructure they need to succeed.
5) Personal accountability
Of all the leadership skills I’m going to mention today, this one may be the hardest one to master. (I’m still working on it myself!) But as a leader, you’re inevitably going to mess up from time to time. It comes with the territory. The truly effective leaders will own up to it rather than deflecting or excusing it. This sets a great example of personal responsibility for your entire team.
6) Resource allocation
Often, roles in business management require you to have the final say on how your company, department, or team spends its resources. The challenge is dealing with competing priorities: What happens when you get three requests for funds but the budget only accommodates one request? Part of being a leader means making these hard calls.
7) Employee empowerment
What do I mean by employee empowerment? Well, a couple of things. One, I mean providing your employees with real responsibility and autonomy, letting them show you what they’re made of. And two, I mean coming alongside your most promising talents and providing them with opportunities for ongoing education and professional development. Your team members are invaluable assets, so make sure you don’t squander them.
Leaders are often concerned with strategic planning, looking down the road and establishing the company’s long-term priorities. With that said, I think adaptability is also an important leadership skill. What happens when something disrupts your supply chain, your marketing channels, your team dynamics, or your industry as a whole? How good are you at thinking on your feet and guiding your team members through quick course corrections?
I’m a little biased here… I am, after all, a motivational speaker… but I believe it’s critical for leaders to inspire their employees. There’s room for straight talk, but you want to avoid leading with fear. Instead, find a way to motivate your team members behind a shared sense of purpose.
10) Culture building
Finally, culture building is one of the most essential leadership skills of all. Your business is more than just hard assets, financial reports, and data analytics. It’s also a set of values and priorities. Good leaders are aware of how their words and their example help to shape that culture; and how the culture, in turn, impacts all the dynamics between team members, with vendors, and with customers.
The bottom line? The right leadership skills can make you an attractive candidate for high-level management roles; and, they can empower you to do your job effectively.
One way to hone these skills is by consulting with a business coach. I’d love to be of service. Reach out and let’s discuss these key leadership skills today. Connect at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098, and let’s get deep into the weeds of effective business leadership.