The Most In-Demand Leadership and Management Skills

ambitious young woman speaks in front of a groupIt takes hard work and constant sharpening of your leadership skills to become an effective manager. Some of the top leadership and management skills companies are seeking in employees include communication, motivation, strategic thinking, delegation, and emotional intelligence. Find out why these skills are desired by organizations and how they translate into good leadership. Take a look at our list of the top leadership skills for managers.


Communication is one of many crucial leadership skills for managers. Leaders need strong communication skills to influence and guide their teams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), communication skills are important qualities of top executives. Top executives need to present information succinctly and persuasively. They should also be able to effectively negotiate with staff and people outside the organization. 

While communication is important, good leaders are also great listeners. Inc. Magazine notes active listening as an important communication skill for leaders in its “Speak Like a Leader: 7 Effective Communication Skills” article. The article also notes that a person’s body language can impact how they communicate. Making eye contact, smiling, and not folding your arms makes your body language more open and can improve conversations. 


Managers need strong motivational skills to encourage their staff to reach organization goals. According to Gallup, a management consulting and analytics company, only 30% of U.S. employees feel engaged at work. Good managers facilitate employees’ engagement and commitment to an organization’s mission and vision. If employees don’t buy into the mission, it may be more difficult for managers to motivate them to contribute to the organization’s goals.

They also motivate employees to be more productive. This can include working harder, producing higher-quality work, and helping the company meet its goals. While it can be difficult to motivate large groups of people with different backgrounds and skill sets, getting the right leadership training can help. Taking online classes or participating in certification programs can allow leaders to gain practical knowledge on how to improve their motivation skills.

Strategic Thinking

A list of leadership skills for managers isn’t complete without strategic thinking. To successfully manage a group, leaders must be strategic thinkers. This includes having the ability to creatively problem solve while considering the company’s short- and long-term goals. The BLS states that top executives must be able to pinpoint and resolve issues. Leaders are good at recognizing problems and shortcomings and putting a plan in place to fix them. 

Strategic thinking also involves planning for the future. Staff members want to know their leader is following a plan and not just reacting to the present business situation. In fact, as noted in this Forbes article, employees respect and value leaders who plan for the future.

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Many might overlook delegation as one of the important leadership and management skills to have, but leaders can’t do everything by themselves; it takes teamwork to meet company goals and objectives. Effective leaders know when to delegate responsibilities to ensure work is completed on-time and on-budget. When they don’t delegate, leaders often become overwhelmed and overworked. This can result in delayed decisions, late projects, and overdue assignments.

Failure to delegate also prevents staff members from increasing their skills and developing their own careers. By asking employees if they want to take on more work, managers can help their employees grow and free themselves up to focus on other managerial needs. In its article, “Delegating: A Huge Management Challenge for Entrepreneurs,” Gallup explained its analysis of 143 Inc. 500 CEOs’ delegation abilities. It found that companies led by CEOs with “delegator talent” had higher three-year growth rates, revenue, and job creation than those led by CEOs with low delegator talent. 

Emotional Intelligence

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” Emotionally intelligent leaders are tuned into their team’s emotions and know how to better engage their people because of it. They also promote a culture of trust and transparency. Establishing this kind of culture encourages employees to give honest feedback, which can result in more ideas shared. It can also give the manager more insight into workplace issues that need to be addressed.

According to the Inc. article, “5 Aspects of Emotional Intelligence Required for Effective Leadership,” emotionally intelligent leaders engage in self-assessment, self-regulation, empathy and compassion, relationship management, and effective communication. 

Improve Your Leadership and Management Skills

Leaders are constantly growing and improving. Which leadership and management skills do you want to develop? Formal programs, like Wharton Online’s Leadership and Management Certificate Program, can help you expand your leadership abilities.