Behavioral Skills for Managers

What are the top 10 Behavioral Skills for Managers? with Examples

One of the biggest challenges new managers face is learning to motivate and lead their teams successfully. It is no easy task, but this is where behavioral skills come in handy. Behavioral skills are essential for any manager, no matter their role or what function they belong to. They can help you motivate employees, handle difficult situations, and make better decisions. This article will give you the top 10 behavioral skills every manager needs to succeed. So whether you’re a new manager or an experienced one, read on to learn more!

What are behavioral skills for managers?

Behavioral skills are personal abilities that allow people to interact effectively with other people. They are the task-related, self-regulatory, and interpersonal skills or behaviors that enable individuals to deliver outstanding performance in workplace settings. These necessary skills include emotional intelligence, adaptability, positivity, etc. Strong behavioral skills are essential in any profession, but they are crucial to customer service or management jobs. They are often considered social skills but are significantly different from soft skills. Soft skills are mostly transferable skills connected to job performance, whereas behavioral skills are more person-centered.

In the context of management, behavioral skills are the ability to understand and control employee behavior. Managers use behavioral skills to motivate employees, solve problems, and improve productivity. They involve the ability to understand and influence the behavior of others to achieve desired outcomes. Managers who can effectively utilize behavioral skills can use their position to make positive changes within their team and with others with whom they interact daily. But, to achieve that, managers must have the right set of behavioral skills which will work best with their managerial roles. What are those skills? Let’s figure that out in our next section.

Top 10 Behavioral Skills every manager needs to succeed

The ten most compelling examples of behavioral skills that every manager needs include:

Manage Your Emotions

There’s no denying that managing one’s emotions is a critical skill for any manager. It’s more important than ever in these turbulent times when nothing is stable, but the pressure to succeed is at an all-time high. Knowing how to manage your emotions is a part of self-management that helps you stay calm and collected under pressure. It also allows you to make better decisions and achieve your goals. If you can keep your emotions in check, you’ll be a more effective leader and be better equipped to handle difficult situations.

Example: A manager remains composed and professional when a project faces unexpected setbacks, addressing the team’s concerns while focusing on solutions.

Action Steps for managers to develop emotional management skills:

  • Become self-aware of your emotions and triggers
  • Accept your shortcomings and work on them
  • Take care of your physical and mental health
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Learn how to help the team to manage emotions

Handle Criticism

Criticism is an inevitable part of any job, but the best managers know how to handle it constructively. They understand that criticism is an integral part of the feedback, and they can use it to improve their skills. They become better leaders, decision-makers, and communicators by taking criticism in stride and learning how to use it to their advantage. Criticism can actually help managers grow and learn rather than deteriorate when handled correctly. That is why handling criticism is one of the most critical behavioral skills a manager can possess.

Example: A manager receives constructive feedback on a team presentation, listens attentively, asks clarifying questions, and commits to making improvements based on the feedback.

Action Steps to Handle Criticism Effectively:

  • Understand that criticism is part of the feedback and a necessary step in the improvement
  • Let the critic know how you will use their criticisms and why
  • Respond openly, honestly, and earnestly to critiques
  • Do not take criticism personally
  • Finally, develop critical thinking skills yourself, which will make you better understand the criticism

Encourage Teamwork

From getting everyone on the same page to working towards a common goal, encouraging teamwork is an essential behavior skill for any manager. It’s one of the most significant factors that can determine success or failure, and it starts at the top with the leader. A great manager sets an excellent example for their team and inspires them to work together towards a common goal. They should be able to build strong relationships with their team members and trust them implicitly.

Example: A manager organizes a brainstorming session, actively participates in the discussion, and ensures all team members contribute ideas and feel valued.

Action Steps to Effectively Build Teamwork for Managers:

  • Creating dependency on each other
  • Motivating the team members to find solutions to problems themselves, taking the help of each other
  • Encourage knowledge sharing and idea exchanges
  • Building a culture of support
  • Further, foster practical communication skills within the team
  • Finally, foster empathy and compassion within the team

Handle Difficult People

Difficult people at work can come in many different forms and different situations. They can be disruptive, disrespectful, and uncooperative. In some cases, they may even be fraudulent or dishonest. However, the underlying problem is usually the same: someone is trying to assert themselves in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable or safe for you. To carry out the managerial role effectively, managers need to develop the behavioral skill to handle these difficult people effectively. While it can be challenging to deal with difficult people at work, you can employ several strategies to help mitigate the effects of their behavior.

Example: A manager interacts patiently and empathetically with a team member who consistently disagrees with others, addressing their concerns while redirecting their behavior positively.

Actions for Managers to Handle Difficult People Effectively at Work:

  • Understand that difficult people are not necessarily bad people
  • Be patient when dealing with these difficult people
  • Avoid getting drawn into a confrontation
  • Don’t take their behavior personally
  • Further, make sure you are thorough with your company’s policy regarding challenging behavior
  • Finally, keep a positive attitude throughout

Stay Positive When Things Get Tough

No matter how challenging the situation might seem, always remember to stay positive. It is one of the most critical behavioral skills that a manager needs to succeed. It is easy to get down on yourself and give up when things are tough. However, remaining positive will help you stay motivated and focused on your task. It will also help you keep a positive attitude towards your team and inspire them to keep going even when things get tough. Ultimately, this will help you achieve your goals faster and less stress. Also, managers can push employees to stay positive in tough times by modeling positivity.

Example: During a challenging project, a manager maintains a positive outlook, highlighting the team’s strengths and progress to boost morale and motivation.

Some keys to staying positive in difficult times include:

  • Remaining upbeat and positive in conversations
  • Remembering that everything will eventually work out
  • Cultivating a sense of optimism and hope
  • Sticking to your goals despite obstacles
  • Further, you should work on self-improvement

Handle Conflicts

Managing conflicts in the workplace is one of the essential behavioral skills and also a critical competency every manager needs to have. You must be able to identify and address conflicts head-on professionally and effectively. Constructive and Judicious conflict resolution is crucial for the smooth functioning of any organization. You can build trust and relationships with your team members, which is essential to successful management. Effective conflict resolution leads to cooperation, improved teamwork, more productive employees, and ultimately firmer relationships.

Example: When two team members have a disagreement, a manager arranges a private virtual meeting, listens impartially, facilitates dialogue, and helps them find a resolution.

Some keys for managers to effectively handle conflicts include:

  • Create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect
  • Listen attentively to each point of view and offer constructive feedback
  • Address the root cause of the conflict promptly
  • Further, avoid personal attacks or demeaning comments directed at others and be open to disagreements
  • Finally, offer support and praise after successfully resolving the conflict conflict

Motivating Employees

To be a successful manager, it is essential to have the behavioral skills to motivate and encourage your team. Whether through giving them feedback and constructive criticism or inspiring them with praise and rewards, being a good manager requires effective communication and understanding of human behavior. By understanding how your team works and what motivates them, you can help them reach their fullest potential and achieve the goals that you set for them.

Example: A manager acknowledges an employee’s exceptional effort, publicly praises their dedication during a team meeting, and expresses gratitude for their contributions.

Some keys to motivating your employees include:

  • Provide consistent feedback and encouragement
  • Create a positive work environment by adopting strong organizational values
  • Further, encourage team members to take on additional responsibilities
  • Finally, make sure you are providing adequate recognition and rewards for achievement

Deal With Change

Managing change is one of the most critical behavioral skills that any manager needs to have in their arsenal, as it is a constant challenge and a never-ending task. The success of any business is often closely tied to the ability to deal with change. A good manager can deal with change effectively. They can take a step back and think about what is essential, no matter how challenging or disruptive the situation.

Example: During a company restructuring, a manager communicates openly about the changes, addresses concerns, and provides guidance on adapting to new roles.

Some keys for managers to deal with change effectively include:

  • First, understand the potential benefits and risks of change
  • Next, be prepared to implement change quickly and efficiently
  • Make sure to control the chaos and confusion that can often accompany change
  • Further, ensure that all team members are up-to-date and understand the changes
  • Finally, take care of yourself – don’t overwork or bottle up feelings to maintain control during changing times

Delegate Effectively

No one can do everything themselves, and that goes for managers as well. So, it’s important to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the right people to focus on the bigger picture. When you delegate effectively, you create a strong foundation for effective management. You can then invest your time and resources in more strategic pursuits.

That is why delegating effectively is one of the managers’ most critical behavioral skills. It will help you save time and energy and ensure that your team is fully operational. It also enables you to practice effective time management and keep yourself away from workplace distractions.

Example: A manager assigns tasks based on team members’ strengths, clearly defines expectations, and trusts them to take ownership of their responsibilities.

Some keys for managers to delegate effectively include:

  • Break the task or the project into small chunks
  • Identify who can perform the sub-tasks depending on the skillset
  • Communicate the mission, expectations, and timelines clearly and coherently
  • Further, be available for doubts or clarifications the team might have
  • Finally, give constructive feedback after the completion of the task

Develop Leaders

If you want to increase your chances of success with your team, you need to develop leaders within your team. Good leaders don’t just motivate their team to achieve success; they develop the team members into leaders themselves. Leaders make their team better equipped to handle challenges and reach their goals by encouraging and nurturing individual strengths.

By developing leaders within your team, you can enhance your team’s effectiveness to a great extent. These leaders within your team will drive change, take charge when needed, and motivate their fellow team members to work together and achieve their goals. Developing leaders is one of the most critical behavioral skills a manager needs to grow.

Example: A manager identifies a team member with leadership potential, offers additional responsibilities, mentors them, and provides opportunities for skill development.

Some keys for managers to develop leaders within their team include:

How strong are your behavioral skills?

As we have noted, behavioral skills are among the most important skills for managers to thrive in workplaces. To help you understand how well you are doing, Risely has designed free leadership skills self-assessments for managers and leaders. Check out now to find where you stand!


Behavioral skills are the essential traits that every successful manager needs to have to lead their team to success. These are the intangible qualities that make people successful in their jobs, and they encompass everything from the ability to self-manage to the ability to delegate or motivate others. Simply put, behavioral skills are what make people successful at being managers. Managers can ensure effective leadership by developing these skills mentioned above using the following keys and some behavioral skills training.

Download the free conflict management toolkit to handle conflicts with ease.

A helpful guide for managers to understand the common workplace conflicts and manage them effectively.

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