Whether you like it or not, unemotional, highly rational, mechanistic and authoritarian leadership are a thing of the past. It is true that these traits might have worked over a decade ago when most corporations were structured on the hierarchical business model of rapid industrialization but those days are long gone.
Leaders or more commonly known as Managers in today’s corporate environment today are often faced with a dynamic, global workforce that requires a totally new suite of management skill sets. The recent emergence of the Gen Y workforce did not make things any easier.
Managers are left with few options. They either proactively arm themselves with more adaptive management skills for the fast-changing business environment or wait out their time before getting replaced by better-skilled peers.
So what exactly are the top management skills that leaders today should possess particularly in Asia? Through my relatively short stint in the corporate arena, here’s the list of my personal top 5:
1. Interpersonal Communication Skills
Asia is a high-context culture society. Although the waves of globalization might have lessened the extent, most Asians still place a relatively high value on interpersonal relationships, experiences and expectations.
Sub-consciously, our superiors, peers and subordinates do read, analyze and form judgments based on daily verbal and non-verbal exchanges of information, feelings, and meaning.
Through face-to-face communication, interpersonal communication is not just about what is actually said or the language used. Greater emphasis is placed on how it is said and the non-verbal messages that are expressed through tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and body language.
Effective communication at the workplace should not be just one-way and self-centred. To facilitate respectful and positive human connections, relationships, and community, communication should be more others-centred.
You will be surprised how communicating positively, constructively, and respectfully can help avoid possible misunderstandings, offence, and disharmony and help you get things moving your way smoothly.
2. Written Communication Skills
Besides the intricacies of face-to-face communication, managers are expected to disseminate information, give instructions and share knowledge effectively through emails or writing of other forms.
A badly structured or written piece of communication will have its recipients wasting a substantial amount of time trying to decipher the intention and also open the content to misinterpretation.
Other than respect from subordinates and peers, senior management will be generally more favourably disposed towards a person who can write well between two equally qualified candidates.
It will be foolish to not enhance written communication skills at the earliest stage and not be left out when opportunity knocks.
3. Effective Negotiating Skills
Life is never a bed of roses and negotiation is often a common affair in the office. One cannot be an effective manager without commanding the skills to negotiate with external parties and obtain a good solution for our staff. Sooner or later, the people reporting under them will throw in the towel out of absolute frustration.
Negotiation is often not as easy as it seems. Tons of research and preparations needs to be done prior the session and one needs to be mentally ready to engage in bargaining and bartering of terms and conditions.
At the end of the day, an effective leader strives to reach a win-win solution that is acceptable to both parties. By doing so, both parties walk away feeling happy which establishes goodwill between everyone.
4. People Handling Skills
Handling people is never easy and there is no method that fits everyone. Life is packed with difficult people in every variety and no workplace is without them. They bring together with them stress to employees and they might even slow down or cripple the progress of an organization.
Knowing how to work your way around such colleagues and customers is an art that few have mastered. These difficult people should not always be seen in a bad light, their behaviour may stem from a good intention.
It is therefore important to understand their primary concerns and explore how both parties can compromise to reach a win-win situation.
5. Coaching, Counseling & Mentoring Skills
Coaching involves continuously teaching and encouraging employees to execute their tasks well, counselling attempts to correct poor attitude and bad work performance and mentoring top employees allows them to excel and shine in their area of work.
Unfortunately, most leaders are not trained to understand how and when to do this. Coaching, counseling and mentoring are core skills and attitudes that are required by managers to provide support for the growth and development of the staff under them so as to build a strong learning team.
How To Acquire These Skills?
Without proper guidance, it may take years for managers to acquire these 5 skills through work experience. Fortunately, there are accredited courses taught by experienced trainers to fast-forward the learning process and get you on your way!
Of course, one should not be limited to just these 5 management skills listed, you can also check out the British Council’s Professional Development Centre comprehensive suite of corporate training courses here.