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Developing managerial and leadership skills is often essential to progress into mid to senior-level senior positions. In fact, Forbes ranks leadership skills in the top 10 most in-demand skills for professionals in the next ten  years, conveying the importance of enhancing managerial skills to help drive organisational objectives. 

While the roles of managers may differ from company to company, and industry to industry, there are universal tips, tools and techniques that can be integrated seamlessly into your development, no matter the leadership role.

It’s vital to understand how to effectively employ and utilise these tips to advance your management career, while also being mindful of your organisation as a whole.

Here, we review 6 ways you can help yourself develop as a management professional. 

1) Utilising SMART objectives

Oftentimes focusing on the end goal can prove to be overwhelming and can do more harm than good. Everyone has a set of career goals and ambitions they’d like to reach, but having the final destination at the forefront of your mind can make it seem more unattainable than encouraging. 

Instead, focusing on smaller, bite-sized goals that  are easier to measure can be the key to reaching the ultimate career goal. Utilising a system like SMART objectives can help set solid steps to move toward those overarching goals, breaking them down into smaller milestones with set deadlines to stay on track.

However, each small goal must align with the SMART framework to guarantee that they're achievable and realistic. 

S: it stands for ‘specific’ and considers the criteria that define the goal, outlining exactly how to reach it. For example, “gaining industry insight” is a very vague goal, while “listening to two management podcasts a month” is a more specific example of a goal. 

M: represents ‘measurable’, which suggests that the results of achieved goals should be quantifiable. The best way to approach this is by dividing the bigger goal into smaller chunks to work on daily, while keeping track of the progress.

A: is for ‘achievable’. When setting goals, it’s vital to remain realistic and set objectives within your capabilities. Setting unattainable goals can only lead to disappointment and frustration with your progress. 

R: stands for ‘relevant’ and it refers to the purpose the goal serves. It should be relevant to the company’s mission and should also relate to your own professional or personal life, solidifying the intention behind setting a goal.

T: is for ‘time bound’. All goals should have a realistic deadline by which they should be achieved, helping keep you accountable and on schedule. 

2) Cultivating self-awareness through feedback 

Receiving feedback, not only for managerial roles, but for all jobs, can help improve performance and cultivate self-awareness around one’s quality of work. According to Gallup, 80% of employees who stated that they receive meaningful feedback are fully engaged, while they’re also 3.6 times more likely to strongly agree that they are motivated to do outstanding work when they receive feedback. 

Encouraging constructive feedback is the most realistic and efficient way to improve your skills, boost your productivity and enhance your career, helping you set personal improvement goals you can work towards to become a more competent manager. 

Not only that, but requesting feedback from your team and colleagues suggests that you value their opinions and perspectives, and put them at the centre of your processes. 

Building healthy and safe relationships with your colleagues is the most effective way to receive feedback, although setting up a system for collecting anonymous feedback, such as a questionnaire, can encourage others to be more open and honest with their comments.

3) Improve your communication 

Having strong communication skills is the hallmark of a successful management career. Holding a managerial position usually involves tackling complex situations, while ensuring your team has the appropriate skills and knowledge to succeed. 

When big changes are taking place in a company, managers must be able to effectively navigate through them, being at all times transparent with their teams about the tasks at hand, as well as the vision the organisation is working towards. 

Based on a survey by Fierce Inc., a leadership development and training company, 68% of employees have cited ineffective communication as the underlying reason for workplace failure. Along with that, Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2024 report found that 84% of employees heavily rely on their managers for communication to some degree, suggesting that good communication is a vital skill for all managers. 

By continuously providing clear updates and instructions, as well as reiterating the plan your team is working towards, you can ensure that your team is aligned moving forward and understand how their work and efforts directly affect the company’s overall objectives. 

4) Reserve time for reflection and guidance

While a good manager should be able to nurture a team that can effectively function without them, regularly checking in with employees is a great way to delve into their progress and level of engagement, scheduling consistent reflection meetings to review your  team's work, before, during and once a project or task has been concluded, can also prove beneficial. 

Reflection allows teams to examine the success and pitfalls of a completed project, helping hone into any problems they might have encountered and need to address  in order to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

These reflective meetings should include all team members, where they’re encouraged to participate, contribute their opinions and discuss  the issues that arose and how they can be improved. It’s also important to discuss what went well and follow through with a comprehensive action plan for best practices moving forward

Alternatively, you can also provide a reflective survey, customised to each project or larger task, which employees can contribute to anonymously, encouraging honesty and transparency while addressing potential issues and skills gaps.

5) Build and establish trust 

Building trust between yourself and your team is a crucial way in which you can enhance your management career, while it can also provide many benefits in the workplace. In a global CEO survey, PwC found that 55% of CEOs believe that lack of trust is a threat to their organisation’s growth, while the Harvard Business Review identified that employees at high-trust companies reported: 

  • 74% less stress,
  • 106% more energy at work,
  • 50% higher productivity,
  • 76% more engagement, 
  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 
  • 40% less burnout 

One effective way to approach this is by scheduling frequent one-to-one meetings with members of your team, where you encourage them to discuss their career goals and how they plan on reaching them. 

Utilise these meetings to stimulate more personal and inclusive conversations about their personal lives (within reason), and identify the factors that may affect their professional performance. By having these conversations, empathy can be cultivated amongst the team, increasing their sense of belonging, motivation and support. 

You can also forge deeper connections with employees that foster trust by: 

  • Regularly checking in with them,
  • Showing genuine interest in their wellbeing, 
  • Taking their opinions and ideas onboard, 
  • Including them in brainstorming sessions and task executions, and
  • Providing them with timely feedback on their performance 

6) Consider professional management training 

Beyond expanding your applied skills through your work, taking on further education is also an effective way to enhance your management and leadership career while staying up-to-date with industry knowledge, skills and trends. 

Enrolling on an online management qualification, for instance, can help you develop new skills and knowledge that you can later apply to your role to meet personal and professional goals. 

Qualifications with The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offer management and leadership qualifications that are considered the ‘gold standard’ across the globe and are highly sought after by recruiters and employers for management roles. 

Alternatively, for those working in project management, PRINCE2 qualifications are ideal for enhancing your competencies and applied knowledge, while also enabling you to apply the agile framework to your organisation.

Either way, additional training is guaranteed to boost your career and help you advance the corporate ladder, allowing you to reach your professional goals and aspirations. 


Become a manager of influence by enhancing your career with one of our 100% online CMI Management & Leadership qualifications