June 10, 2016 Leadership Insight

Critical Skills for Frontline Managers

Dear Esteemed Leaders

I would like to share this article I just read from Centre for Creative Leadership.  It talks about the importance of equipping our Frontline Managers so that they can rise up in the corporate ladder confidently.  You will notice that all the skills listed have nothing to do with industry knowledge or technical skills because naturally, those would be given expectations and competencies.  Instead, the skills listed are of self awareness, and of people skills.  This is especially important where our next generation of Leaders can be quite immersed in the social media, but can be daunted by actual human interaction!

Develop Yourself First!



Frontline managers are the managerial foot soldiers, responsible for many of an organization’s critical day-to-day operations.

They supervise other contributors, yet they’re usually the least experienced tier of managers in a company, often newly promoted into their first leadership role.

Despite their importance, organizations face big challenges when trying to make these managers more effective. According to a 2011 CareerBuilder survey:

  • 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job, according to their subordinates;
  • 26% of first-time managers say they felt they weren’t ready to lead others; and
  • 60% say they never received any training for their new role.

Since these frontline managers may go on to middle- and even upper-management jobs, it’s little wonder that 50% of all managers in organizations are rated as ineffective.

In order to succeed, frontline managers must possess 6 key skills:


  1. Self-awareness.Managers who understand their own strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and preferences are better equipped to make day-to-day decisions and interact effectively with others who have different personalities.
  2. Political savvy.Managing internal stakeholders and navigating organizational politics to achieve goals is a key competency for managers.
  3. Learning agility.Learning quickly from experience is the ability to integrate experiences and adapt to the environment. This allows managers to swiftly recognize, analyze, and address new problems.
  4. Influence.Effective managers are able to accomplish goals by affecting the actions, decisions, and thinking of others. Influence allows you to get things done and achieve desired outcomes.
  5. Communication skills.Skilled managers can communicate with people at all levels in the organization, including team members, superiors, peers, and others. It’s especially important to effectively communicate goals and expectations.
  6. Motivating others.The most successful managers are able to inspire and guide direct reports and others to complete work, especially when goals are unclear. This may include motivating others to exceed expectations or put in extra effort — without monetary incentives.

For most organizations, frontline managers comprise the largest group of leaders. They are often scattered across multiple locations.

Companies have traditionally been forced to compromise between quality, cost, and flexibility when considering leadership development solutions for this large audience. Digital solutions are the obvious choice because they are cost-effective, but can they be engaging and impactful, too?


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