Skills and personal characteristics needed by managers

Managers need various skills ranging from technical to design to be effective. The relative importance of these skills varies according to the level in the organization. In addition, analytical and problem-solving abilities and certain personal characteristics are sought in managers.

Analytical and problem solving abilities:

One of the frequently mentioned skills desired of managers is analytical and problem solving ability. But as Alan Stoneman, former president of the Purex Corporation, used to say, “We have no problems here; all are opportunities; all a problem should be is an opportunity”. In other words, managers must be able to identify problems, analyze complex situations, and by solving the problems encountered, exploit the opportunities presented. They must scan the environment and identify, through a rational process, those factors that stand in the way of opportunities. Thus, analytical skills should be used to find needs of present customers or potential ones and then to satisfy those needs with a product or service. It has been amply demonstrated that this opportunity seeking approach can mean corporate success. For example, Edwin H Land of Polaroid filled the needs of people who wanted instant photographs. But problem identification and analysis are not enough. Managers also need the will to implement the solutions; they must recognize the emotions, needs, and motivations of the people involved in initiating the required change as well as of those who resist change.

In addition to the various skills that effective managers need, several personal characteristics are also important. They are (1) a desire to manage, (2) the ability to communicate with empathy, (3) integrity and honesty, and (4) the person’s experience, his or her past performance as a manager which is a very significant characteristic.

Desire to manage:

The successful manager has a strong desire to manage, to influence others, and to get results through team efforts of subordinates. To be sure, many people want the privileges of managerial positions, which include high status and salary but they lack the basic motivation to achieve results by creating an environment in which people work together toward common aims. The desire to manage requires effort, time, energy, and, usually, long hours of work.

Communication skills and empathy:

Another important characteristic of managers is the ability to communicate through written reports, letters, speeches, and discussions. Communication demands clarity, but even more, it demands empathy. This is the ability to understand the feelings of another person and to deal with the emotional aspects of communication. Communication skills are important for effective intra-group communication, that is, communication with people in the same organizational unit. As one moves up in the organization, however, inter-group communication becomes increasingly important. This is communication not only with other departments but also with groups outside the enterprise: customers, suppliers, governments, the community, and, of course, the stockholders in business enterprises.

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