What Are General Manager Skills? Definitions And Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The general manager plays a crucial role in improving the productivity of employees and increasing the revenue of an organisation. They handle various tasks like devising short-term and long-term goals for the team, budgeting, hiring and training staff, monitoring the work of other employees and interacting with senior management. Having the right set of skills helps general managers perform their duties efficiently. In this article, we discuss general manager skills and types, critical skills that can help you become a successful general manager and tips on developing these skills.

What are general manager skills?

General manager skills refer to a specific set of hard and soft skills that help general managers carry out their responsibilities efficiently. The general manager (GM), also known as managing director or chief operating officer (COO), handles the overall operations of a specific business unit. Though the actual responsibilities of the general manager vary depending on the industry, organisation and scope of the job, there are a few skills that apply to all general managers. You can classify general managerial skills as:

  • Technical skills: These skills enable professionals to work with a variety of tools, techniques and strategies that help them achieve business objectives. In some industries, technical skills refer to machinery operation and other industry-specific skills, while in others these skills refer to product design, sales growth and marketing strategies.

  • Conceptual skills: Idea formulation, strategic thinking and critical decision-making are some of the key traits of successful general managers. Conceptual skills help general managers analyse the challenge, visualise the solution and monitor the successful implementation of the project.

  • Interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills or human skills help managers interact, collaborate and work efficiently with their team members, subordinates and senior management members. These skills help general managers earn the trust of their team members and enhance employee productivity to achieve the best results.

Related: What Is The Role Of A Manager?

Skills to become a successful general manager

Having an array of managerial skills can help you excel in your role and advance in your career. Acquiring and developing the following skills can help you answer management interview questions and also help you carry out general manager duties and responsibilities:

Interpersonal skills

Being a general manager requires you to interact with employees across departments, clients, senior managers and other stakeholders. The ability to build successful relationships can help you lead a team efficiently while earning the respect and trust of colleagues. Set aside time in your daily routine to get to know your team members professionally and personally. You can also organise team-building training activities to establish rapport and connect with your team members while respecting their boundaries. Simple gestures like recognising the achievements of team members and encouraging them help to build a positive workplace.

Communication skills

Being adept in different communication styles like verbal, written and active listening helps you better workplace communications. The general manager acts as the liaison between frontline employees and senior managers. Developing your communication skills across channels like social media, email, phone, in-person meetings, presentations and group discussions can help you interact and engage with a variety of people, including entry-level employees, clients and department heads. Here are a few strategies to improve your communication skills:

  • Establish a trusting relationship with your team members so that they feel comfortable sharing their challenges and conflicts with you.

  • Be accessible to your team and let them be aware of the different ways they can connect with you during and after work hours.

  • Schedule weekly or monthly team meetings to discuss the progress and challenges of your team members.

  • While interacting with your team members, maintain eye contact, demonstrate positive body language by smiling and listen attentively to their issues before responding.

Decision-making and problem-solving skills

Efficient decision-making helps you evaluate the pros and cons of a situation and make an informed decision. Problem-solving requires the ability to remain calm in stressful situations and a careful attention to detail. Critical thinking skills can help you ensure that the workflow runs smoothly, and the team remains productive by overcoming challenges along the way. Creative thinking also helps you develop innovative solutions that offer the best results for the team and the overall organisation.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Organisational and delegation skills

Having excellent organisational skills can help managers handle multiple tasks efficiently. Strong organisational skills help general managers carry out multiple tasks simultaneously and within deadlines. Delegation skills help managers ease their workload by delegating tasks to team members. Effective delegation involves analysing and identifying the skills of each employee and assigning them the right task based on their skill-sets.

Commercial awareness

Commercial awareness refers to the ability to understand the business operations of the organisation. Managers can demonstrate this skill by:

  • being aware of the missions and aims of the organisation

  • developing an understanding of the industry that the company belongs to

  • understanding the economic and political issues affecting the organisation

  • building knowledge about the company's competitors and their products and services

Coaching and mentoring skills

General managers play a key role in the professional progression of their team members. Coaching and mentoring skills help managers organise effective training sessions that help team members enhance their professional skills and advance in their careers. Good managers consider other employees as collaborators and share their skills and expertise with their team, helping them build confidence. Demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in the professional development of your team members helps you earn their trust and respect.

Related: Guide: What Is A General Manager? (Plus How To Become One)

How to develop general manager skills

Here are a few ways to gain and grow your managerial skills:

1. Join leadership clubs and societies at university

If you are interested in a career as a general manager, you can take advantage of leaderships opportunities while you are in college. You can gain practical experience in managerial skills by joining a sports team or volunteering to be the chairperson of a student club. You can also consider contesting student body elections to develop your leadership skills.

2. Consider an internship

Internships provide you with practical insights into a professional working environment and help you learn the basics of managing a team. Besides building your skills and confidence, an internship can also provide you with professional contacts in your preferred industry. During the internship, you can volunteer for tasks like giving presentations, organising team meetings to develop managerial skills.

3. Enrol in professional qualifications

Professional qualifications, like a management degree, can help you gain both theoretical and practical knowledge of managerial skills. A management degree may help you win promotions at work and advance to senior managerial roles. These programmes also provide you the opportunities to interact with peers from various backgrounds, helping you grow and develop your professional network. If you are working full time, you can consider an online management degree or a part-time programme that allows you to study while you work.

Related: Manager Vs. Senior Manager: What Are The Differences?

How to highlight managerial skills

When applying for a managerial role, it is important to show the hiring manager that you have the essential technical and soft skills to qualify for the general manager role. Here are a few tips to help you highlight these skills on your resume and during the interview:

1. Include relevant managerial skills on your resume

Here are a few ways to create a powerful impression on the recruiter by highlighting your managerial skills on the resume:

  • Include strong action verbs. Use powerful verbs like created, developed, achieved, planned, coached, guided, organised, supervised, motivated and inspired to describe your previous work achievements.

  • Use the right keywords. Read the job listing carefully to identify the key skills required for the role. If you have these skills, you can include them on your resume to highlight your suitability for the role.

  • Quantify your management skills by using numbers. For example, you can describe your training skills as, Trained and coached a team of 50 digital marketing interns and helped them ease into their roles. Using numbers helps to put your accomplishments into perspective, making it easy for the recruiter to quantify your skills.

  • Show your commitment to developing your skills. You can list workshops, seminars and other leadership trainings that you have attended to showcase your commitment to lifelong learning. You can also mention any in-house trainings and workshops that you have conducted for your team.

2. Demonstrate managerial skills in the interview

Here are a few ways to showcase your managerial skills during the interview:

  • Use the Situation, Task, Action and Result (STAR) interview technique. The STAR interview method is a popular way to answer behaviour interview questions by describing a previous work challenge and explaining how you used the right skills to achieve the desired results.

  • Practise answers. Read common general manager interview questions and prepare answers for the questions beforehand. This gives you the confidence to tackle similar questions in the interview.

Explore more articles