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Why managers need management training!

[ Copyright Steven Lesser 2008 ]

A presumptive title, for which I hope you will excuse me.

Most people in the role of Executive, Manager or Consultant, be it for a large company, own business, or other services, bring specific skills and qualities to their work. In many cases those same people are required to manage people, in an office, on a site, around the world. So, how do we keep our management skills up-to-date? When was the last time you attended management training?

Think of your own personal development and your need (or otherwise) for management training. As with any exploration, you have to have a plan, a map of sorts. You might start out using the map to get you headed in a direction; however, along the way you may choose to forge new trails into unmarked territory, or something unexpected may occur that takes you down a different path altogether. Here is a suggested map:

  • Learning is not linear.
  • Make connections between points.
  • Exploration in today’s world is changing in shape and form.
  • The power of technology provides information at “warp” speed.
Making Connections
  • Systems thinking: Everything you do ultimately connects to, and has an impact on, everything else you do. In business, all departments impact the success of the entire organization.

Keeping Up with Keeping Up
  • It’s been said that if you examine the current pace of innovation, it’s like blowing through the Industrial Revolution every 18 months!

  • Learning organization” and “lifelong learning” emphasis the importance of staying current, exercising creativity, not getting stuck in a skill-set “paradigm”

  • This is important in your professional growth as well as that of your entire organisation.

Today’s Professional Managers Must Demonstrate Leadership

Part of your job as a manager is to be a leader and to develop leadership within your team. In today’s work environment it is important to embrace both management and leadership. Many of the skills embraced by leaders are the same as managers. The difference is in how they apply them. Project Management is a good example that is consistent with the situation many Managers are faced with. You are there because of your technical expertise, but need to manage a diverse team including, for example, support staff, graphic design and accounting. Many projects don’t run smoothly, or fail, because of a failure to focus the project, to balance the managerial/leadership needs with the technical.

Just as management techniques and requirements change, so do those for managing. When did you last update your technical skills? Your management skills? Both are vital for today’s Manager/Leader. 

Try this quiz: 

Do You Possess Management Skills and Do You Demonstrate Leadership Within Your Sphere of Influence?

Directions: Rank yourself on a scale of one to five (with one being low) on each of the following descriptors. 









Focusing on Day-to-Day






Establishing a Plan






Problem Solving






Organizing the Details












Communicating Plans






Monitoring & Reinforcing






Implementing Plans






Managing Change












Score: ________ Total Points Out of 50 Possible Points









Being Future-Oriented






Establishing a Vision






Employing Strategic Thinking






Seeing the Big Picture






Team Building






Creating Coalitions






Inspiring and Energizing






Removing Barriers






Being a Change Agent












Score:__________ Total Points Out of 50 Possible Points

Utilise your score to continue and build on your strengths. Identify opportunities to work on any “gaps”. Ask yourself these two questions:

In what areas do I need the most work?

In what areas can I contribute the most to others?

As you can readily see, leadership and management competencies are both important to integrate into your style. Your ability to inspire is important, while your ability to organise and pay attention to details is critical as well. Now use this as a guide in seeking appropriate management training.

Why Managers Need Training

The way Managers work together and exchange expertise is critical to their personal success as well as the success of their projects and their organization. Many of the management skills that are needed also are consistent with successful project implementation, for example.

Managers of the future will no longer be able to rely solely on their technical expertise to show their value. They must be able to provide more than knowledge: they must be both willing and able to play a variety of roles within an organization, regularly and effectively.

This is also true of the relationships that business managers, consultants and others have with outside contractors, Government Departments, and others where that they can only influence, not control. These management/leadership skills need to be reinforced from time to time. It is an investment in personal development that provides both immediate and long-term benefits for the consultant and the business.

These, then, are the critical management roles needed for the effective Consultant, Manager, and Leader:

1. Specialised Professional - Relates technical or complex information to the job, but within the strategic scope of the project.

2. Facilitator - Manages discussions effectively; ensures that all parties are in agreement and have a clear understanding of the agreed-upon next steps before going on; keeps the focus on moving the work/project forward.

3. Problem Solver - Effectively analyzes the overall situation/project; proactively identifies problems and proposes solutions.

4. Coach - Motivates and works effectively with others while helping them develop skills and knowledge; creates an environment where coaching & feedback is important.

5. Administrator - Manages time, deadlines, and budgets simultaneously; provides a variety of written summaries for projects; has a clear understanding of the policies and procedures involved in utilizing resources.

6. Influencer - Receives recommendations favorably. Is persuasive; presents options and trade-offs and focuses on win-win outcomes.

7. Strategist - Gets the “big picture”; has a clear understanding of business strategies and needs as well as objectives and concerns.

8. Partner - Brings a high level of trust and commitment to working relationships; has a keen, objective sense of whether expectations are being met; values open communication as a fundamental building block for all constituent relationships.

Ok, so maybe I see a need for some management training! What do I do? Review opportunities to attend training sessions within your company or with partner firms. Seek out conferences that provide both technical and leadership insights. Observe others and review your own application of current management skills in the light of your observations. Ask for training. Influence an informal Manager’s network to include more topics/speakers on management. Take ownership for your own learning.

Here is a model for personal learning ownership:

A Personal Learning Model: “Coach Yourself to be a Leader”

Learn the concept:

Getting the big picture about a subject

Explore the value

Ask yourself, “Is this important to me and why?”

Acquire the 'how to':

Learning the nuts and bolts, practicing the skill

Devlop a plan:

Identifying where, when, and in what way to apply the skill

Execute the plan:

Following through on the plan, making it part of your process

Reinforce, Refine, Recognise:

Integrating and continuing the learning process


Today, one of the best resources for information is the Internet. Review sites that offer tools, articles and insights into effective management. Many business magazines and newspapers now provide extensive, researchable (a great Manager/ Leader skill!) databases. Also, visit the InfoWorks site for some free online tools to manage more effectively and improve productivity.

Like more information?

We're happy to provide a more detailed list of Core Leadership Competencies and High Leverage Project Competencies (in the form of an assessment). Simply contact the team at the Belief Institute with your request today.

About this article:

This article is based on an article that was originally written for the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) and has since been published in several journals.

Steven Lesser
October 2008