Running a business requires a multi-faceted skillset in order to effectively manage the business. These skills are needed in most industries, although the applications may vary. For a successful career in business management, you will need to become proficient in the areas of business preparation, leadership, organization, planning, and inspiration.
Depending on the size of your business, whether or not you have a master of business administration, and the level at which you are involved, you may find that one of the five management functions generally outweighs the others. For instance, a low-level manager is less likely to use their planning skills since planning usually comes from higher levels of the management team. This low-level manager needs to hone their leadership skills in order to oversee the team that reports to him or her. However, as their career develops, each of the five functions will be utilized to some degree.
Let’s discuss each function and how it applies to business management:
Preparation is one of the management functions that can be used at all levels. Whether you are a newly-appointed district manager who has a small staff, or a tenured corporate president, good preparation will give you confidence and promote efficiency. If a manager prepares their day the night before, gets their schedule in order ahead of time, and allows staff to ask questions before any tasks are completed, they help alleviate the panic and stress that is accrued in last-minute situations. Since handling change is one of the features of managing, staying prepared will promote the confidence level of your entire team.
One of the qualities that propels a good manager upward in a company management structure is their leadership potential and accomplishments. Leadership is a talent that can be developed through exercises and practice, but it rarely can be learned unless the potential is already there.
Leadership is a function that is hard to define when discussing general management. However, a good leader stands out from the group through their team’s successes and how they handle failure.
What defines a good leader? Psychology Today defines great leaders as possessing “dazzling social intelligence, a zest for change, and above all, vision that allows them to set their sights on the things that truly merit attention.” What does that translate to in business? A leader has the experience and skills to inspire their team to work together, resolve differences, and push forward to achieve their goals even when they have setbacks. The mark of a great leader is someone who can work with a variety of personality types and encourage them all to grow professionally and personally.
Since managers are required to take charge of processes and people, they must have excellent organizational skills. However, these organizational skills go beyond knowing how to put things in order. A manager needs to be able to organize their team’s work in such a way that each team member is using their own skillsets to their full potential for themselves and the team. Additionally, the manager needs to organize their own work in such a way as to drive their team forward in a positive manner.
As a manager moves up the corporate ladder, their organizational requirements become vastly more complex. They manage far more people, and need to be able to see where changes are needed to maximize their output.
Planning is one of the most critical functions of a manager at all levels of business. Most business plans are created at least six months in advance, and many are established years ahead of implementation. In order to plan ahead, a manager needs to be able to envision future steps towards a long-term goal. This ability to envision is rare and difficult to teach.
Planning requires a thorough knowledge of company resources, budgets and goals, and how to take a long-term plan and break it down into actionable steps. Although changes will need to be made along the way, the plan is what guides the actions until the goal is reached. Good planners are risk takers willing to stretch to reach new goals both figuratively and literally.
Inspiration is a talent that cannot easily be taught. The greatest leaders know how to inspire their teams. These are the people who rise above the crowd in all areas of industry, culture and society to challenge and inspire others to achieve greatness. What makes one person a born leader or not? A lot of inspiration comes from attitude and willingness to look beyond the surface.
What is truly astonishing is that great leaders can be found in all walks of life. Most people can name one or two teachers that inspired them to do well in school. These teachers are remembered into adulthood because they influenced the student. In industry, a manager who inspires others may not crave attention, but their team will be the one that meets goals consistently. Inspirational managers come from all walks of life and have every type of personality. What they have in common is the desire to achieve, and the ability to influence others to achieve alongside them.