Sincerity, vulnerability, joyfulness: What often overlooked traits are your manager development programs missing?

Whilst managers are given training on some soft skills, others are frequently overlooked leaving major gaps in leadership capabilities that can hamper team effectiveness...
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Sincerity, vulnerability, joyfulness: What often overlooked traits are your manager development programs missing?
Traits such as joyfulness and sincerity are invaluable - but require dedicated management training

Picture a perfect manager. What comes to mind? Strong leadership, clear communication, attention to detail, rigorous time management, meticulous organisation, pragmatic problem-solving, and effective decision-making all probably make the list.

Whether you call them soft, power, or professional skills (or some other variation), these competencies are frequently found in managerial job descriptions.

A 2022 Ciphr survey of 2,000 UK employees reassuringly confirms employers and HR teams are on the right track here, with leadership (48%), verbal communication (35%), and teamwork skills (35%) ranking as the three most popular responses for top managerial soft skills.

Whilst there is some variation based on factors such as gender, with women (36%) prizing empathy in managers more highly than men (25%), these competencies are all fairly obvious areas of focus of management and leadership development programs.

But underpinning many of these capabilities are some hidden soft skills that when missing can compromise the ability of managers to effectively manage teams.

Competencies and traits like vulnerability, joyfulness, and sincerity are often missing in our definition of effective managers. “During times of change employees look to managers for honest, authentic action,” explains Justin Schakelman, Vice President, Talent Development at Citadel Federal Credit Union. “Behaving this way, though, isn’t natural for all managers. And it’s nearly impossible to fake sincerity, so many managers simply avoid it.”

Missing these traits is often at the detriment of unlocking individual engagement and team performance.

“The benefits that these traits bring will be seen in high-performing, diverse teams,” says Emma Dean, Chief Operations Officer at SMG. “Through promoting sincerity, for example, diversity is promoted, as people will feel able to be their authentic selves rather than following the group, which delivers diversity in thought and approach and richer outcomes.”

Why are the hidden traits underutilised in manager development programs?

Chartered Management Institute (CMI) research tells us that 82% of managers haven’t had any formal training before stepping into the role. As such, with development opportunities few and far between, it’s understandable that when employers do offer management training, managers will often ask for help on the main issues that affect their day-to-day frustrations.

The obvious candidates above like leadership, time and project management, or communication skills are more obvious traits that are, arguably, easier to coach than more nuanced competencies.

The benefits that these traits bring will be seen in high-performing, diverse teams. Through promoting sincerity, for example, diversity is promoted, as people will feel able to be their authentic selves rather than following the group, which delivers diversity in thought and approach and richer outcomes

Emma Dean | Chief Operations Officer, SMG

Traits such as vulnerability, joyfulness, and sincerity are less well understood, and tricker to train on how they could be used in a business context. Given they are complicated traits to develop, when they are neglected, it can limit a manager’s ability to develop some of the more obvious skills.

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