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Inbound Marketing Blog

    6 Books for Building and Honing Your Management Skills

    Posted by Jessica Bowers Hopson

    What are the indicators of the success of a business? Is it money? Sales and revenue? Number of customers? Recognition and ‘buzz’? Your idea of success can be made of up of some or all of those things, but take a minute to think about what drives any of it. I’ll give you a hint: it’s people.

    The success of an organization is determined, in fact, by the people within the organization.

    Recruiting top talent is a hallmark of some successful companies, but it isn’t always a guaranteed indicator for leaving a mark on history.

    The difference is often in management.  Many of the most successful organizations have company cultures that employees love, and managers who don’t just manage but who also lead.

    So, if you’re a manager, how do you make sure that you are leading your team to success, and creating an environment that will help people come together for a strong organization?

    Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the key qualities that leaders should have, plus some reading material to give you insight on mastering those qualities.

    Your Reading List

    There’s a million lists out there of the books that managers should read right now!

    Yes, right now! While we’d say it’s good advice for managers to be constantly learning how to do their jobs better, there’s only so many times you can be told you should read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie or ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu.

    At this point we’ll just assume you’ve read them, or at least, have already been told that you should read them. This list is a little different:

    1. Skill: Listening

    Recommended reading: Listening: Learn to Really Listen and Develop Active Listening Skills by Christian Olsen



    Good managers listen. In order to do this, it’s crucial to both practice good listening skills and create an environment where employees actually feel open.

    Listening is a crucial component in understanding small problems before they become big problems. Too often managers who aren’t really listening miss crucial information about what their staff needs to be successful at their jobs. This leaves room for inefficiency, low productivity, or what’s worse - a company full of miserable people.

    2. Skill: Connecting

    Recommended eading: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John C. Maxwell


    The abilities to connect with people, and connect people together, are often overlooked in the wheelhouse of management.

    A manager who can connect with their employees often has a much easier time understanding problems, and motivating others. More importantly, connectivity breeds other important work environment factors, like trust and credibility.

    Not only do strong leaders have the ability to connect with people themselves, but they can also bring other people together.

    When co-workers are connected with each other, collaboration is easier and more productive. 

    Helping colleagues communicate with each other to create open dialogues will make the team see the bigger picture, and will establish an environment of everyone working together to achieve the same goals.

    3. Skill: Selflessness

    Recommended reading: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek


    Being one part of a team can necessitate acting in selfless ways.

    Sometimes, it’s necessary to put aside what is good for you for the good of the group. This school of thought is especially important for those in management roles.

    Showing commitment to your employees, or putting them first, can create an environment of team members who follow your lead, and work better together.

    We wrote recently about how ‘corner offices’ can separate managers from teams, and create environments of separatism and hierarchy.

    While it’s still important to hold your authority and keep respect from your colleagues, putting yourself within the group mentality (instead of above it) can ultimately be a bonding element for your team, and can motivate others to act selflessly as well.

    4. Skill: Trustworthiness

    Recommended reading: Building Trust: How To Get It! How To Keep It! by Hyler Bracey Ph.D.


    This might seem like a given, but its implications are deep.

    Trustworthiness can mean different things to different people. To some managers, trustworthiness means your employees know that you’re always honest.

    Or it can be your employees follow your decisions because they trust that you’ve researched, brainstormed and evaluated the situation beforehand.

    Trust is also a crucial component to open communication and a comfortable work environment.

    But you can’t forget that the value of trust goes both ways.

    Employees who feel they are trusted by management feel less stressed, micro-managed, or on edge because they think their every move is being watched. On the other hand, when employees trust their managers, they feel more comfortable speaking up about issues, aren’t always just focused negatively on repercussions or punishment, and feel more comfortable with trying (and failing) at new things.

    5. Skill: Credibility

    Recommended reading: Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner


    Credibility is often crucial to people.

    Managers who struggle with keeping credibility often lose the authority they have with employees.

    In fact, it can be difficult to connect with your team if they do not find you credible. Credibility comes with saying what you mean, and meaning what you say, accepting responsibility, and holding yourself - and others - accountable for their decisions and actions.

    Credibility can also come in the form of being authentic.

    In marketing, we often talk about establishing credibility for brands because consumers typically only do business with those they deem credible.

    The same goes for your team members. It can be difficult to salvage a functioning organization if management isn’t perceived as worthy of their titles and their power.

    6. Skill: Storytelling

    Recommended reading: The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby


    One of the most effective and compelling communications skills? Being able to tell a story.

    Stories make people and situations relatable and can more clearly demonstrate a point or teach a lesson.

    Storytelling is the art of being engaging, connecting with your audience, and motivating others to think or act in a new way. When your staff feels a task is pointless, or they are having trouble seeing the end goal, a well told story can often change their outlook.

    Additionally, being a good storyteller isn’t just about being entertaining and demanding attention. Often the best storytellers are very clear and concise. Being able to get straight to the point is a necessary leadership skill that your employees can greatly benefit from.

    So now that we’ve stacked up your summer reading, you can be prepared to not just manage your team, but actually lead it.

    Remember these key skills for creating an enjoyable working environment where your employees feel respected, included, and important to the overall organization. When you take care of your staff, they’ll be able to do their jobs better, and the customers, revenue, and recognition will follow.


    Topics: Inbound Marketing