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Six Essential Skills of Executives and Front-Line Supervisors

Front line supervisors and executives may find themselves at the top end of the pay scale, but that usually comes with added headaches. For instance, while the average American works about 40 hours per week, executives log about 62.5.

Not to mention the mental pressures that never really leave. In this article, we look at the six essential skills to manage those pressures effectively.

1. Emotional IQ

Your ability to pick up on and manage your emotions is emotional intelligence. Sometimes this is referred to as Emotional IQ.

What do emotions have to do with supervisory and management roles? Everything. There are two ways a high emotional IQ can come in handy.

Self Governance

Perceiving of and managing emotions pertains first to yourself. You need the ability to keep your extremes in check if you hope to join the world of successful executives, and that means being aware when emotions are starting to take over.

Finding the balance between logic (decision-making) and emotion (relatability) is key. You need both to manage people and keep the goals of the organization front and center.

Managing your emotions isn’t possible if you’re unaware of them. Make time for self-reflection and criticism. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are to better manage those around you.


Tapping into your emotional intelligence will help when it comes to helping others under you. That’s because it strengthens your empathy muscles, which are necessary when the going gets tough.

The challenges your business faces get perceived differently from the bottom to the top. You can’t expect subordinates to follow your lead if you’re unable to see things from their perspective.

It may not seem fair. They don’t realize the pressures and the stress you’re under. They couldn’t do it, or they’d be doing it, and you’d be somewhere else.

All of that may be true, but it’s not how you should approach leadership. Empathize with what they’re going through. Try to feel it the way they do, and you’ll have their support to get through whatever challenges you face.

2. Communication Skills

You’ll never make it to that front-line supervisory salary if you don’t know how to communicate. It’s especially challenging for front-line supervisors because they have to speak the language of their employees while supporting the vision of leadership. Here are two recommendations to help.

Know When to Communicate

There are times when employees should be “in the know.” A manager’s job requires them to be able to discern when those times are.

Keeping employees in the dark will lead to losing their support. At the same time, having them privy to all the inner workings of the business can be overwhelming and detrimental to their performance. Good managers know when and what to communicate with the appropriate personnel.

And How to Communicate

How you communicate really puts your leadership skills at the forefront. Being well-spoken and well-written are essential qualities.

Body language, eye contact, and using language appropriate to the employee’s educational level is useful. But so is your ability to write articulately and tailor that message to different media (social networks, internal newsletters, press interviews).

3. Organizational Skills 

Achieving a supervisory role or upper-level management doesn’t happen without organizational skills. They don’t have to be your strong suit, but you should at least have enough knowledge to realize their importance.

If you do, you can get someone to help with the rest. There are numerous apps and software programs that can help as well. In this section, however, we’ll be focusing on the very basics. That is, what you will need to be organizing.


Everyone, from the low-level employee to the front-line door supervisor, has a list of tasks for which they’re responsible. Being able to keep those tasks clear in your head while hitting deadlines is essential.

As you increase in experience, you may not be able to do it all yourself. That’s where your people prove beneficial.


How do you organize people? You do it simply by knowing the human capital you have to work with (their strengths, weaknesses, and other relevant information), their non-negotiable responsibilities, and their departmental objectives.

Putting the right people in the right places will give you optimum productivity from that team of people. It will also enable you to more effectively delegate responsibilities along the way.

4. Strategic Mind

The ability to strategize belongs on every list of executive functioning skills. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to manage the inevitable market and industry changes that lay ahead over the course of your career.

Most leadership skills test questions seek to test your mettle when it comes to strategizing. They want to see if you are capable of striking the right balance between short- and long-term decision-making. 

There’s a reason Captain Kirk, and other fictional, as well as factual, leaders, played chess. It tested their ability to see multiple moves ahead while being present enough in the moment to make the next right decision.

5. Stress Management Skills

When you manage people, you take on a lot. You deal with scheduling, ensuring coverage, managing around their emotions, and unexpected challenges. You do this while dealing with your own supervisors, managers, and personal responsibilities as well.

If you haven’t found an outlet for coping with it, you’ll need to, or the stressors can take a toll. That toll extends to your physical and mental health. 

6. Time Management Skills

Time management is one of the most essential skills that executives or front-line supervisors can possess. That’s because you’re dealing with more responsibilities as you move up the ranks.

You’re writing reports you never had to write before. You’re managing budgets, overseeing people, making sure their tasks get done even as you tackle the higher-level issues.

Staying distraction-free is critical. Put away the social media. Adopt mindfulness practices to improve your focus.

Choose Front Line Supervisors and Executives Wisely

Front line supervisors and executives offer critical support to employees and leadership direction for the future of the organizations they serve. To be successful, however, they need strong emotional intelligence, people skills, and the ability to manage multiple responsibilities at once. For more business and workplace tips, check out some of our additional posts! 

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