Unlike the managers of the past, today’s leaders need to engage, innovate, collaborate and reflect, so the requisites have certainly changed.

We’re here to explore the evolving role of a manager and the teachable skills that modern leaders need to achieve better outcomes for themselves, their teams and the organisations they work for.

How the role of a manager is changing

As we usher in the era of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and remote workspaces, many aspects of the managerial role are changing.

Where a leader once directed, they must now instruct, and where they once controlled, they must now collaborate instead. The responsibilities that machines are unable to fulfil — such as inspiring, leading and creating — remain in the hands of capable leaders.

Management theorist and mining executive Henri Fayol once suggested five key management functions: planning, staffing, organising, directing and controlling. Although accurate when it was theorised, the traits we would consider management material today are pretty different.

Tanya Abbey is the CEO of the full-service recruitment agency Recruitment Corp and understands that management and leadership roles are constantly evolving.

“Managers need to be more mindful today,” she says. “The role of a manager has changed so much. It’s now a more collaborative and inclusive role rather than just being in control.”

Others share her sentiments. In Delivering for Tomorrow: APS Workforce Strategy 2025, the APS identifies leadership qualities as inspiring and energising employees. They invite their leaders to encourage staff to innovate and collaborate to reach future goals. As the Australian skills shortage shows, our demand for competent leaders like these has never been greater.

What skills should a manager have? The 7 key abilities

Learning how to be a people manager has evolved from a position of control and direction to inclusion, collaboration and innovation.

Effective managers in the future will have long-term leadership competencies like conflict management skills and strategic planning. But they’ll also have modern ones that focus on interpersonal skills and leadership. With an MBA, you’ll become proficient in both areas.

So, what skills should a manager have, and how can they elevate their existing capabilities? Below, we look at the seven key traits that leaders must possess to make it in both today and tomorrow’s world of work.

1. Building diverse relationships

As one of the most critical stakeholder management skills, a leader must know how to develop and nurture relationships in order to be proficient. Not just with external clients and customers but with employees as well.

“Management is about understanding how to manage people differently, learning what drives them and being an effective communicator,” Tanya explains. Interpersonal skills like these are a common feature in jobs that won’t be automated in the future.

2. Overcoming imposter syndrome

The belief that you’re not worthy of or even suitable for the position you’re in can manifest with symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. According to the American Psychological Association, up to 82 per cent of people have experienced imposter syndrome, and it’s more common in underrepresented minorities.

If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, you need to challenge the narrative you’re buying into. When these thoughts arrive, make sure you’re sticking to the facts and reflecting on the expectations you have set for yourself. Sharing how you feel and seeking out a mentor can also help with gaining perspective and reframing these thoughts.

However, imposter syndrome is not all bad. Acknowledging that you don’t know everything can lead to further learning opportunities and growth. The key is having a healthy dose of self-doubt that won’t negatively affect your mental wellbeing.

3. Fostering inclusivity and open communication

The role of a manager is changing, and it’s no longer about being in a dominant position and controlling what your employees do. Collaboration, idea sharing, equality and open communication are necessary if your goal is to become a better manager.

“Never overlook the importance of cohesiveness and inclusivity with your team,” Tanya says. “Spend time engaging with your staff to get everyone on board with your vision.”

4. Developing self-awareness through feedback

A good manager must be as aware of their own performance and behaviours as they are of their employees’. A critical management skill in the future of work is asking for and implementing feedback from the people you work with. This objective view of your strengths and weaknesses can increase your self-awareness and push you towards improvement.

5. Being able to weather change

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 Report, crucial self-management skills today include flexibility, resilience and stress tolerance. Thanks to your leadership, change management skills will ensure that your organisation stays ahead of the trends and is able to deal with change and crises when they occur.

6. Demonstrating vulnerability

Showing vulnerability has not always been an admirable leadership trait. But today, it’s an asset. Vulnerable leaders can admit to their mistakes, share emotions and thoughts, ask for help and admit that they are not all-knowing.

A leader who demonstrates vulnerability will likely encourage employees to do the same, resulting in an organisation that takes risks, innovates, learns and grows.

7. Delivering bespoke management

Tanya uses the term ‘bespoke management’ to discuss a management style that looks at every employee as an individual.

“Managers need to understand that everyone is managed differently. You should never be assumptive with your management style.”

This focus on bespoke management can help propel teams to better outcomes by considering the needs of individuals and the whole organisation.

Becoming a better manager: How an MBA can help

As a leader, your stakeholder management skills need to continually expand. Discover how to be a better manager with an MBA and improve your leadership capabilities with these practical tips.

Immediately apply what you learn

Your development as a manager doesn’t end when you earn an MBA. “The MBA gives a good overview of how to manage, but you have to make an effort to apply the knowledge practically as well,” says Tanya. By applying the teachings immediately and consistently, they will be more effective.

Think like an entrepreneur

It’s vital for a modern leader to have an entrepreneurial spirit. It allows them to innovate, think outside the box and embrace learning and development opportunities — like studying for an MBA. Don’t be afraid to take risks, experiment with new ideas and challenge your traditional thinking.

Build a network

Studying for an MBA gives you a unique opportunity to connect with knowledgeable leaders and professionals from other industries. Use the learning experience to build a network and gain access to the insight and expertise that other managers can share.

Seize other learning opportunities

Tanya sees an MBA as a solid foundation for building management skills, but it’s not the only platform. “Good leaders aren’t born, but they lay dormant until they’re made. Look for ways to improve and evolve, like having a professional mentor, undertaking further studies or asking for feedback on your management style.”

Become a better leader with an MBA

An MBA can teach the skills that will help you become an effective leader today and future-proof your career for tomorrow. The program covers the fundamentals of management and leadership in a flexible format so that you won’t have to sacrifice your career.

MBA Discovery’s Student Enrolment Advisors will be there with you every step of the way and help you decide which MBA program aligns with your professional goals. Reach out today and discover the possibilities of earning an MBA.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

Next intakes and how to apply

Fees and time commitments