Top Ten Soft Skills for Managers in Business

soft skills for managers

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Successful business leaders merge solid technical knowledge and skills with real-world industry experience. As vital to their success, though, are soft skills. Developing skills early in a professional’s career can speed up professional advancement. Soft skills enable managers to lead teams and organizations well. Leaders who struggle with top soft skills for managers may seem unapproachable. 

Employees and staff members rely on business leaders. They articulate an organization’s vision and mission. They carry the team when no one else does. This is true within all industries, from construction to healthcare.

Good leaders use critical thinking to design and implement business plans. They motivate individuals to meet their short and long-term goals. Leaders cultivate productive and positive work environments. They incorporate soft business skills in their conversations and workday practices. These practices affect organizational morale and the bottom line. 

If these softs skills for managers are not ones that you excel at, the good news is that you can learn and practice. Courses, books, and resources help leaders develop these critical leadership skills. Here are the top ten soft skills managers should consider developing:


Soft Skill: Communication

Among all the lists of softs skills for managers, the one most commonly on top is communication. Learners interested in effective communication at work should consider taking coursework in communication.

Communication courses teach students many interpersonal skills. One is how to discern if the person they are talking to is being dishonest. Other topics include the keys to developing trust. Students learn the best methods of communication for negotiation. Curriculum covers how to apologize when you have made a mistake. 

You can also expect to learn when to cooperate and when to compete. Crafting persuasive messages and asking thought-provoking questions is important. Communication includes practicing active listening and choosing the suitable communication medium. Ways to communicate include phone calls, face-to-face conversations, video conferencing, texting, and email.

By the end of a communication course, you should be able to understand what someone wants. You can also respond to their desires while create convincing and clear messages. While hard skills and technical skills are great to leverage, leaders need to hone the critical communication skills needed to get ahead in business.

Award-winning Wharton instructor and best-selling author, Maurice Schweitzer, offers a course. His Improving Communications Skills course gives distance learners the tools needed to improve communication skills. They learn how to gain the most successful strategies for using them to their advantage.

Course: Improving Communication Skills

Soft Skill: Time Management

time management

Time management is one of the most critical soft skills to master in order to success in business. Sharpening your time management skills is incredibly valuable. You can apply knowledge and understanding of professional awareness, organization, and commitment. Using the tools, techniques, and methods of high-quality time management matters. You will enjoy goal setting, delegation, prioritization, and scheduling. These tools overcome time management issues and enhance productivity.

Committing to a course in time management will produce many positive effects. The course includes learning a plan to achieve one’s personal and professional goals. Good time managers recognize and overcome successful time management barriers. Inconsistency and the difference between what is essential and urgent matters. All time management courses worth their salt help learners.

Time management includes understanding the importance of identifying specific time management tools. Courses should show them how to use them. Time managers see a resource’s full potential. They garner strategies to keep perspective while preventing and managing crises. They learn to delegate and manage expectations while learning how to say “No.”

Course: Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity

Soft Skill: Collaboration

Collaboration is a vital soft skill in any manager’s skillset. Learning how to get along with others results in the best possible outcome in business. Taking a course in collaboration is an excellent way to learn this art. offers a free class on collaboration. “Mastering Collaboration: Work together for the best results.” Program content includes ways to enjoy business collaboration. Students learn how organizations get work done in today’s global marketplace. Students also learn to guarantee that collaborative teams work well within a project.

Successful collaboration includes the fundamentals of designing and leading a collaborative team. It also organizes and gets the most out of collaborative meetings. It is an online collaboration opportunity that shows how to effectively work across groups. A good collaboration lesson shows students what they need to create and support for a thriving collaboration culture.

By the end of any course on this topic, students should be confident in setting the example in business. They create effective teams. Graduates infuse collaboration into their organization’s goals and values for long-term success.

Course: Mastering Collaboration: Work together for the best results

Soft Skill: Conflict Resolution

Mediation is an integral part of reaching peaceful and mutual solutions in today’s business world. Solution levels include social, international, peacekeeping, political, and industrial. Conflict resolution is one of the most important soft skills for managers, because it is not a matter of if conflict will arise, but when. A quality course in conflict resolution helps the student choose and lead within the mediation process. Mediation students gain a deeper understanding of international and workplace conflict resolution.

One excellent free course on this topic is Coursera’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Students interested in this online course are encouraged to first complete Fundamentals of Negotiation. Both courses can be acquired through the site’s MOOC “Negotiation Fundamentals.” Upon course completion, learners will be proficient in defining what mediation is and discern when to use it. They list different types of mediation and identify challenges and issues that most mediators face. Students choose the appropriate strategies within a list of options. They remember the dos and don’ts of mediation.

Course: Mediation and Conflict Resolution


Soft Skill: Motivation

Employee high performance is one of the essential contributors to successful organizations. But how can leaders encourage high performance while supporting workers? In a course that teaches motivation, a learner covers lessons of managing for high performance. Curriculum deals with:

  • motivating employees and increase employee satisfaction through coaching and goal setting
  • learning to measure performance fairly and accurately
  • strategies to develop a performance that supports organizational goals

The University of Canterbury offers a free online course entitled “Motivation: Performance and Motivation at Work.” This distance course begins by defining performance. Students describe what performance is and list the vital factors that contribute to high performance. The course looks at performance measurement. Students describe unique approaches like measuring results and behavior.

Any course on this soft skill should lead learners to explain how criteria and standards capture performance. They should also learn about the need for accuracy (validity) and fairness within performance ratings. Motivation is one of the essential soft skills for managers because motivated professionals get more done in business.

Course: Performance and Motivation at Work

Soft Skill: Creativity and Innovation

One of the more overlooked soft skills for managers is creativity. Creativity and innovation are closely related. Business professionals with a creative flair look at issues from a unique perspective. They develop innovative solutions and technologies through creative critical thinking. Its seems like everyone on the planet is having their life disrupted by:

  • wars
  • pandemics
  • global warming
  • political chaos
  • innovations in technology

During change, creativity can make or break a team. It is an essential time for business leaders to form the soft skill of creativity and innovation. Worldwide, people must now prepare for an unknown and unpredictable future. This is the goal of Coursera’s course called “Creativity, Innovation, and Transformation.”

This excellent course on creativity and innovation includes four main modules. Innovation Toolbox, Creative Diversity, CENTER, and Transformation. The soft skill course trains students to discover their unique, creative, and innovative nature. They also grow a sense of responsibility to themselves and community. Enrolled students transform their inner world into higher ethical states. They appreciate unexpected beauty and deeper meaning.

Creativity unlocks a professional’s ability to innovate and make sound business decisions. Receiving some training in this soft skill is an excellent idea.

Course: Creativity, Innovation and Transformation

Soft Skill: Decision-Making

A decision is a choice or act of selecting one action from a group of alternatives. Decision-making is often defined as choosing a practical course of action from two or more options to achieve the desired result. Good decision-making lies at the very heart of sound business management. P. F. Drucker wrote, “Whatever a manager does, he (or she) does through making decisions.” It is one of the most important soft skills.

Managers determine all matters relating to direction, planning, organizing, coordination, and control. Their decisions are put into practice by an organization’s operators. Variables which regulate a business’s performance include:

  • policies,
  • objectives,
  • goals,
  • strategies, and
  • organizational designs.

Decision-making is a vital soft skill because the entire managerial process is based on various decisions. Decisions are needed for addressing issues and taking maximum advantage of available opportunities. Sound decisions reduce waste, complexities, and uncertainties within an organizational environment.

Course: Master your Decision-Making, and Critical Thinking Skills

Soft Skill: Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the pursuit of understanding and managing personal emotions. It also deals with the emotions of others around you. This is a great soft skill for managers to own, especially when working in teams. It can make all the difference. Pursuing a course or certificate in emotional intelligence is a great idea. They offer business professionals an extraordinary opportunity to spend quality time by themselves assessing current management soft skills and define their core self.

These practices are vital to professional and life success. Unsure how to progress with some coursework in the subject? Want to brush up on the critical skill? Consider a free online course offered by the business school at the University of Maryland. The course is “Let’s Get Emotional: Emotions & Emotional Intelligence.”

Course content reveals how emotions are a vital secondary intelligence system. Emotional intelligence can be measured, developed, and deployed. It involves practice and education as an applied skill. A well-developed vocabulary of emotions is central to emotional intelligence. Any course or certificate one seeks on this soft skill should include:

  • definitions of emotions
  • why they are essential
  • lessons on survival and growth

Course: Let’s Get Emotional: Emotions & Emotional Intelligence


Soft Skill: Empathy

Empathy is a soft skill against which many have set barriers needing to be unlearned. People can be quick to internalize unhealthy ways of communicating and listening. This is true in business and in personal and family relationships. These behaviors get bred into a new normal that nurtures loneliness and disconnection. The antidote to this tendency is for business professionals to receive training based on:

  • transactional analysis
  • social psychology
  • NLP’s “Becoming an Empathetic Leader” helps students learn one of the most essential soft skills. They process ways to understand unhealthy relationship dynamics. Students of this course study listening and responding blockers that compromise relationships. They discover practical guidelines to become active listeners. Empathy training helps professionals learn how to manage conflicts and avoid misunderstandings. If you’re interested in learning how to be an empathetic leader, look for courses and resources that keep up with trends and stay relevant.

Course: Becoming an Empathic Leader

Soft Skill: Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility matter. They round out the top-ten soft skills managers should spend time developing. As the saying goes, the only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability. Planning is essential in business. Adapting and changing course when needed is also vital. Some people are flexible and can adapt quickly to situations. Others struggle to find a plan B when conflict arises.

Courses like’s “Adaptability and Flexibility: Improve Team Adaptability to Maximize Work Performance” are excellent resources for distance learners. Students in this class learn how to deal with:

  • evolving environments in business
  • workers’ and a team’s employment
  • coping with changes by developing employment skills
  • helping a group manage, adapt, and learn.

Since the world is constantly changing, we must keep ourselves relevant and valuable. These courses are perfect for existing and new managers, supervisors, and business professionals.

Course: Improve Team Adaptability to Maximize Work Performance

Action Plans

soft skills

Find a Mentor

Leaders are responsible for much in the business world. Successful leaders understand the importance of mentoring, delegation, and communication, among other leadership skills. Consider leaders who have influenced you in school and at work. Think about what it would take to seek a regular meeting time with a mentor who can invest in your professional and personal development.

Read Books on Communication

There are countless resources available about quality communication. Business leaders are readers. They understand the essential value of communicating effectively-verbally and in written form. Do a quick search on the top-rated books on communication, and then hit your local library so you can have zero investment but get so much out of it.

Find a Degree that Stresses Essential Soft Skills

If you’re interested in pursuing a business career, you will want to develop essential business soft skills. See if business schools offer courses dedicated to soft skill development when researching online MBAs. You will quickly discover that an online MBA program will help you establish a strong foundation in business principles. MBA programs equip students with the soft skills for managers that are needed for long and successful careers as business leaders.

Related Resources:

Top Online Healthcare MBA Programs
Alternatives to an Online MBA
How Can I take Free Online MBA Courses?

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