Getting a promotion into management is exciting but do you really know  what you’re letting yourself in for?  For the fortunate few, getting things done effectively without enormous fuss and tension all round, comes naturally.  For the rest of us it requires training, practice and concentrated    effort.  The good news is the managers that constantly outperform their peers share a number of identifiable characteristics and skills which the rest of us can work on.

Research conducted into participants on Newly Appointed Managers Programme over the past three years has identified 17 core competencies of good managers usefully categorised under the main headings.

Managing Self


They have a clear understanding of the job to be done and are good at setting themselves challenging yet achievable goals.

They get things done, they are efficient, reliable and meet deadlines.

They  constantly  monitor their own performance and welcome feedback (they are more interested in identifying any shortcomings than in receiving praise).

They are technically competent  for their jobs and keep up to date on technical developments.

They can be creative as well as analytical in their search for solutions.

They use time efficiently, avoid time wasters and concentrate on productive activities.

They create a good balance between work, play, family and rest.


Managing Others


They are good at establishing team goals and getting others to sign up to them

They work with their teams to set challenging yet achievable goals

They give regular feedback, address problems in a constructive way and seek continuous improvement

They consistently acknowledge good performance in others both publicly and privately

While retaining responsibility for standards and outputs, they delegate interesting as well as routine assignments as much as possible

They can be assertive in one to one situations but also respect the other person’s position.

They are active listeners and follow up on agreements

They are confident in groups, good at expressing their ideas and establishing rapport

They enjoy the trust of superiors, peers, and subordinates.

They generally have warm and open relationships with a good balance between working relationships and friendships, and are widely regarded as being loyal and supportive to management and colleagues

They do not shy away from difficult situations, but seek to diffuse them and find a win-win long term solution

They develop and maintain wide networks of contacts, both within and outside their organisations, to which they can turn for information, advice or support in various situations.

It’s most unlikely that any individual fits this profile to perfection, but here are some of the features which are frequently found in exceptional managers.


Exceptional Managers


Excell at prioritising and switching quickly between tasks and they are simply better than others at keeping a lot of balls in the air.

They seldom lose sight of the bigger picture, the overall objectives, but at the same time they constantly hone in on crucial components, no matter how small.

Their ability to focus on minutiae in a timely way can appear uncannily  intuitive and is usually associated with strong analytical skills.  But research indicates it is typically supported by thorough preparation.

Exceptional managers do not procrastinate.  Unlike most of us, they are probably more diligent about doing their less enjoyable tasks than the pleasant ones.

They are skilled at assessing and managing risk and therefore avoid wasting time and effort on “hopeless” causes.  For the same reason, they are good judges of how far they can stretch their teams – building confidence, morale and expertise in the


Successful delegation of authority and responsibility is probably the single most challenging skill which sets excellent managers apart from good ones.

Good managers recognise that delegation is crucial to giving themselves the time they needed to be truly creative.  Excellent managers have a similar outlook – but  they also believe delegation is crucial to the stimulation and development of team members so that they can be

truly creative.