The role of a general manager, or GM, is critical to the success of any business organization, which is why the top five competencies to be successful in the role should be known. GMs are responsible for leading teams, setting a company’s strategic direction, and helping drive business growth. It’s a wide range of technical skills, management skills, financial skills, and interpersonal skills.  The general manager is a key cog in a company’s machine, and if the right person is in the role, the organization can thrive.

In theory, anyone with the requisite experience (or even without it, in some cases) can take on this role, and do a serviceable job in it. But, what qualities make someone an exceptional candidate for general manager? Are measuring soft skills a contributing factor?

The Top Five Competencies of a Successful General Manager

What separates average general managers from the truly great ones? In order to be successful, there are several key competencies a general manager should have that enable them to navigate complex challenges and lead a company well.

1. They Show Strong Team Leadership Skills

First and foremost, a general manager needs to be able to guide and direct a diverse group of individuals – their team, or many distinct teams – towards a common goal. Team leadership isn’t just about barking orders and ensuring deadlines are being met, though.

Truly great team leadership is on display when a GM helps to create a positive work environment that inspires employees to trust each other, which enables them to collaborate better and also helps drive innovation. A successful GM manages, motivates and coaches team members to attain shared goals. 

While all the competencies that follow this one arguably also work as examples of good managerial skills, from an organizational and motivational standpoint, “team leadership” is the key ingredient that enables a GM to bring everything together to make magic happen.

2. They’re Collaborative Dynamos

Some GMs think the fate of their company or team rests entirely on their shoulders – but you know what? They’re usually wrong! Taking every decision upon themselves might not make them bad general managers. Still, a truly great general manager is willing to take a collaborative approach when faced with a complex problem or issue.

When that happens, successful general managers call in the troops. They ask for advice and input from others with different perspectives and take those ideas to heart. Such open collaboration enables their teams to overcome obstacles more easily and shine.

Now, being collaborative dynamos doesn’t mean that the buck doesn’t stop with these kinds of successful managers – it absolutely does! But, since they don’t surround themselves with “yes men” or operate in an echo chamber, there’s more respect given to these GMs’ ideas, policies, and decisions for their team and the company.

3. They Know When to Delegate

In addition to being willing and enthusiastic collaborators, successful general managers also need to have delegation skills. The ability to delegate is an essential competency for a general manager, as it helps empower their team members by giving them more autonomy and ownership over their work (which, in turn, leads to higher engagement and job satisfaction).

At the same time, there is a practical, common-sense reason for a GM to delegate: It’s more efficient in day-to-day business operations! Handing off specific tasks or responsibilities to others in their organization frees up time for general managers to focus on more strategic or high-priority tasks and responsibilities.

A general manager who can recognize and efficiently leverage their team members’ strengths, expertise, and experience through delegating is an asset to any organization. They know they can’t handle everything alone and trust their employees to do as well as they can.

4. They’re Adaptable/Flexible

With the rapid advancement of new technologies and drastic changes in consumer behavior happening regularly, inflexibility is the last thing you want in a general manager. Being able to respond rapidly to changes in the business environment and adapt to these new circumstances quickly is a key competency no general manager should be without.

Moreover, if a general manager is adaptable, you can be sure they can learn from failure. Flexible GMs look at failures and mistakes as learning opportunities; they see how previous approaches didn’t work and then adopt new strategies based on their findings.

The market often throws you curveballs, and a GM should be able to learn from the past and also be able to pivot to meet new challenges – it’s insurance against uncertainty.

5. They’re Great Communicators

Finally, a truly great and successful general manager is someone in possession of excellent communication skills. With effective communication skills, a GM can motivate and inspire others to do great things.

It’s not just about clearly conveying ideas or policies to your employees: It’s also about being willing and able to listen and show that you’re taking what others say to heart. Communication is a two-way street; make it about conversation rather than dictation or lecturing.

In line with the previous point about adaptability, excellent communication also involves adapting what you say to different audiences. Know when to use jargon and when to throw it out!

How to Reveal the Top Five Competencies in GM Candidates

Just because anyone can be a general manager doesn’t mean everyone will be good at it. As you can see, there are several core competencies a general manager should have that make them stand out and become successful. If you’re looking for a general manager who has these core competencies, then you need to work with Reveal.

Through the use of Reveal’s C-fit technology and competency-based candidate assessments, you can be sure that the general manager you end up with is truly the right person for the role. Want to reduce your time to hire, and get the right people in the right seats? Reveal can help!