There is no one way to be an effective manager. There is no right way to lead. Good leadership is fluid, multifaceted, and complex. It requires continuous personal and professional development, including dedication, self-reflection, and commitment to growth. Yet, it’s worthwhile to note that personal excellence isn’t the goal. As a manager, the goal is your team’s and organization’s collective success.

If you’re ready to begin the ongoing journey of effective leadership, read about the top competencies to work on this year.

Emotional Intelligence

When you think about the best bosses you’ve ever had, what comes to mind? It may be the manager who was consistently level-headed and calm in the face of stress. The boss who instinctively knew when you were having a bad day and always made you smile. Maybe the manager always listened to you and was easy to talk to.

These are all indicators of emotional intelligence, one of the most important competencies to master to be an effective leader.

Emotional intelligence is your ability to understand and manage the emotions of your team and others around you. Someone with high emotional intelligence doesn’t shout when stressed out. Rather, they know which emotions they are feeling, how displaying emotions affects those around them, and how to manage them.

Emotional intelligence requires self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy, and social skills. You can and will spend your entire career improving this competency.

Continuous Learning

Good leaders always learn from their mentors, peers, and teams. Workshops, courses, and conferences always teach leadership development.

What you should learn will vary depending on your industry, organization, and role. What’s important is to build this habit of learning within yourself and a culture of education within your team.

As you continue to learn, regardless of the topic, you will improve, grow, and become more knowledgeable and open.


It is virtually impossible to be a successful leader if you’re a poor communicator. Every day, in almost every situation, you need to communicate. You may share good news or bad news. Strategies and ideas.

You may communicate with your team members in other departments or with your executive team. You may need to communicate in a public forum, at events, or in private. Regardless of what you say, how you say it, to whom, and when, all matter in effective leadership.

To become a better communicator, ask for and be open to constructive feedback from everyone around you, and work on that feedback daily.


As I’m sure you know, the business world changes constantly. It ebbs and flows. It can be volatile. A good leader understands this and adapts to the changing environment.

You may face restructuring of the organization. A new executive team. The mass exodus of your team members. Constantly changing business priorities, strategies, and objectives. What can you do? You adapt.


Sometimes, the easiest way to be an excellent manager is to listen and ask questions. It’s that simple. Some of your team members may only need a sounding board to find the answers. You can empower them by listening to and asking questions rather than solving their problems.

Seeing Beyond Yourself

It’s easy to boast about what an outstanding manager you are when your team has a great quarter or year. It’s still easier to blame team members when they fall short of their targets.

Leaders can see beyond themselves. They know that all achievements are team achievements. They also know that all failure and blame lies directly on their shoulders – not their team’s.


Especially when you’re a new manager, delegating can be harder than expected. After all, you are confident in your skills, and giving up control and trusting others can be difficult. Yet, it’s an essential leadership skill to understand your team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and confidence levels and delegate work effectively.

This skill can improve team efficiency, productivity, and results while fostering ownership and accountability.


Awkward conversations can be, well, awkward to have. Yet, if a team member is falling behind on their goals, you must have that tough conversation before it’s too late. Giving appropriate feedback is a skill just like everything else in leadership and one you can learn. There are multiple feedback frameworks you can use to practice this skill.

Whether you’re an emerging manager or have been in a leadership position for a long time, it can be difficult to admit that you may benefit from leadership development. Maybe you’ve learned as much as you think you can from books and courses.

To excel at the competencies above, consider investing in professional leadership development. It may be the best thing you can do for your career, team, and organization. By connecting with other leaders, you can learn from those who have been in your place before and harness the power of experience. Become the best leader you can be with professional leadership development.