Seven important life skills that business students should develop to be effective managers

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Effective managers can make or break an Organization. History is full of examples where a great company management has overcome humongous challenges despite having limited resources. Tesla taking on with big auto makers and Netflix competing with HBO are some examples. It is no doubt that to be a good leader and manager; one has to acquire certain skills. As defines, a skill is basically having knowledge, ability, and competency in a certain area. There are a range of skills and lists could be a long one for budding managers to learn, however; we have identified here seven soft life skills that will help managers to be effective not only in their professional careers but also help in living a happy and fulfilling personal life.

  1. Networking

Networking is connecting with others for informational exchange in a formal or informal setting. As the managers are usually very busy and this is one activity that managers tend to ignore or overlook; however, as Herminie Ibarra, professor at INSEED business school points out that ignoring networking and not developing this as an important skill in a manager’s toolkit and it could be a potentially fatal career mistake.

  1. Decision Making Skills

Decision making is basically identifying a problem or issue that you want to address, short listing options and their pros n cons and finally, identifying one alternative that is best way forward with all available information and resources. There is a literature to build knowledge about good decision making however, practicing the know how in real life, having courage to acknowledge bad decisions made, and reflecting upon your decisions and decision making process will really help in acquiring this skill.

  1. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence as a skill in mangers imply that they are effectively able to manage their own emotions and understand emotions of the others and ability to influence emotions of others in a positive manner. This is one of most widely talked about skills to be an effective manager and researchers across the fields admit that this is one of the key skills to be acquired by managers.

Like IQ, we all have some level of EQ and it can be further improved over a period of time. However, key here also is reading and learning about it, practicing, analyzing, reflecting and allowing yourself to fail while you learn and improve are important factors to be proficient in this skill.

  1. Negotiation Skills


As we work more and more with people of different cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, and perspectives and the problems in hand become more complex; it is normal that differences will arise now or then. And , that is why, good negotiation skills help managers to settle differences and create a Win Win situation for most of the stakeholders.


  1. Leadership

This goes without saying that being a manager requires you to be a good leader. Though it is always argued vehemently in management literature who is a leader and who is a manager however, their boundaries do tend to overlap with each other to some extent and especially in most of the cases since managers normally do tend to manage and lead a team.  However, likewise other skills mentioned in this article, leadership is also requires continuously reading and learning about concept of leadership and about great leaders and practicing leadership as/when possible.


  1. Risk and Innovation

In the current business scenario, companies that have outperformed their peer groups like Apple, Amazon, and Tesla all have been fuelled by their risk taking and innovative capabilities to a great extent. It is no doubt that managers have to take risks for their companies to excel, however; managing risk is also a skill that they shall continuously improve and work upon. On the other hand, innovation is an idea, process, method or product which is new and is attempted to make that real and bring to life.


  1. Managing Change

Change is inevitable and organizations have to make some or other change implemented almost every day to keep themselves relevant and continuously meet the expectations of all stakeholders. Managers are expected to lead from the front and walk the talk when it comes to making changes implemented. Humans have a tendency to stay in their comfort zone and keep doing and following how they have got used to do it and making a real change happen and sustaining requires really good change management skills from the managers. Like other skills, this one too is learnt with continuous practice, failure and reflection over a period of time.


IMT and Business schools in Dubai do their best to impart knowledge and provide environment to practice that knowledge however, in the end, it is continuous practice of the principals learned and applying them in real life helps gaining them as true skills for budding managers.

Starting early does help and why not start from today itself!

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