Core skills for the transition from managing yourself to managing others


Being good at what we do often transitions us from the effective management of tasks to the management of others and their performance.

Unfortunately the developmental and skills gaps are often not fully considered in succession initiatives as the need for role ownership takes precedent over qualities and competencies needed for positional advancement.

Despite the process and the prioritisation of organisational needs, which is essential for sustainable success, high-potentials are presented with an integral opportunity to align their why, what and how: why in terms of their own and the organisation’s growth, what in terms of skills and knowledge development, and how in terms of leadership competency investment.

These competencies are fundamentally rooted in the tenets of emotional and social intelligence. Without the skills of self-awareness and self-management, and of awareness and management of others, we are left with only functional skill proficiencies. These are then not integrated with the essential behavioural competencies necessary for effective management and leadership.

It is helpful to understand the difference between management and effective management. Management is the successful operational activity that includes planning, organisation and task administration. Effective management is that which focuses on the leadership of people through communication, influence and inspiration in support of organisational effectiveness. As such, the following core effective management skills should be considered as high-potentials evolve from the management of self to the management of others:

Awareness: The importance of awareness of self and others rests on the premise that we cannot manage that which we do not know. Without self awareness, we are often oblivious to our impact on those around us. Without the awareness of those around us, we are less able to effectively show up with care and empathy.

Goal clarity and values alignment: Providing direction and setting an example by living the values that organisations require for functional and behaviour alignment remain a key focus area for managers and leaders.

Consistency: Consistency in how we, as leaders and managers, show up and we treat others is essential for effective management. Consistency ensures aligned expectations and provides security. It allows for successful measurement and creates accountability through credible, aligned words and actions.

Communication clarity and diligence: Clarity is a social intelligence competency that measures the ability to express thoughts and intentions clearly. It is a responsibility in communicating strategy, providing performance feedback and in allocating tasks. Diligence requires focusing on the quality and quantity of communication e.g. even when there is nothing to communicate, share that.

Openness: Hearing and understanding others is linked to our ability to listen effectively and without judgement. Being open to and inviting multiple perspectives celebrates diversity in a way that welcomes ideas and creativity.

Care and growth: The transition from management of self to management of others brings with it the responsibility and opportunity to invest in the potential of others. Leading with empathy motivates others on their personal and professional journey, and is an implicit investment in organisational success.

Resilience: This has been described as the ability to deal with life as it is, not as we want it to be. Our ability to proactively invest in our own reserves supports others, not in bouncing back as traditionally described, but through including and transcending, by bouncing forward with strength and agility.

There are as many core skills listed for effective management as there are leaders. What is essential for high-potentials to realise is that every encounter is an opportunity to grow and develop as a human and as a leader. Our human responses are thereby held in check by our leadership responsibility that aligns our why, our what and our how.

Author: Sue Bakker is Academic Head at TowerStone, a leadership centre which helps and empowers leaders to build a values-driven culture for sustainable success. Visit