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Four Competencies to Focus on When Hiring or Promoting Leaders

November 13, 2014

PromotionPicture this: You need to fill a management position for your company’s Marketing department ASAP. You don’t have the time to source for external candidates, and luckily, you think you have the perfect internal candidate. This person knows the Marketing jobs he will be overseeing well. In fact, he is one of your company’s top performing employees within the Marketing department. How convenient! You extend an offer, he accepts, and life is good.

Sure enough, not even six months have gone by and you are receiving multiple complaints from the new Marketing Manager’s direct reports about the new Marketing Manager’s “leadership style”. Employees aren’t happy, work isn’t getting done, and some employees are even threatening to leave the company.

What happened? It just doesn’t seem to make sense, right? How can it be that the new Marketing Manager was excellent in his last non-managerial role, but not this new managerial role? The answer is more simplistic than you think: not everyone is managerial material – plain and simple. Putting people in managerial positions who are not cut out for these positions can have negative consequences. Poor management has been found to have an effect on organizational factors including job satisfaction, productivity, and turnover. Therefore, it’s important that we are putting the right individuals in managerial positions.

How do you know if someone is cut out for a managerial position, or is the “right” individual for the position? You can start by assessing 4 broad areas critical to an individual’s success as a Manager or Leader: leadership skills, people skills, thinking skills, and work style skills.

1) Leadership Skills

Not surprisingly, Managers and Supervisors need to possess a strong set of leadership skills in order to be effective and constructive. Specific areas of leadership that have been found to be important to leadership success include one’s ability to effectively and willing mentor, coach, and develop their subordinates, one’s ability to empower and motivate employees, and the ability to provide behavioral feedback in a constructive way. Certain types of managerial roles require leadership skills that other managerial positions may not. For example, a Team Leader on the production floor would need to possess leadership skills related to employee safety that requires him or her to correct, address, or educate others about any hazardous situations on the job, whereas our Marketing Manager would not.

2) People Skills

Let’s face it: if you aren’t comfortable working and communicating with others in the workplace, a managerial position likely isn’t going to work out. People skills that have been found to be predictive of successful leadership performance include one’s ability to effectively handle and resolve conflicts, one’s ability to work collaboratively and effectively with others, and having an awareness of one’s actions and how those actions impact others. Being able to engage in appropriate, interpersonal behaviors in the workplace is key to building successful and productive Supervisor-Incumbent relationships.

3) Thinking Skills

Having the ability to thoroughly and effectively make decisions and solve job-related problems is critical to supervisor success. One of the most common duties of a Manager or Supervisor is to make sure that client, customer, and employee obstacles are being removed or lessened. This includes making sure questions are being answered, proper actions are being taken, and problems are being resolved. All of these actions require one to use critical thinking and decision-making skills. You can have the friendliest manager in the world, who possesses all the necessary leadership skills, but if they can’t solve problems, they will likely fail at being an effective Supervisor or Manager.

4) Work Style Skills

Becoming a leader does not mean that you get to stop being a working employee. Although Managers and Supervisors typically have the power to delegate, certain working skills are always going to be necessary to use and demonstrate. For example, it’s important to be and be viewed as reliable and accountable as a Manager or Supervisor. Other work style skills that are important to managerial success include one’s ability to plan and organize, stay proactive, and adapt to changing circumstances in the workplace. Without these powers, becoming a successful manager is unlikely.

The next time you are tasked with finding someone for a management position, hopefully, some of these skill areas will stick out in your mind. In order to find the total package manager, all skill sets listed above should be assessed prior to making a hiring decision.

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Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Senior Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.