When developing your managerial skills, don’t neglect those vital conceptual skills.
When most people think about management skills, they often focus on things like organization, delegation, and resource allocation. Seen from the outside, a manager’s job can sometimes seem focused on the little things of business: creating schedules, directing employees, and relentlessly pushing a team to achieve short- and long-term goals. Few people consider the important conceptual skills managers use to achieve their goals.
In this post, we’ll explain why conceptual skills are so important and examine seven conceptual skills that all good managers need if they want to be effective in their jobs. We’ll also offer some tips you can use to improve your own conceptual skills and expand your management skills.
What are conceptual skills?
Conceptual skills include all those abstract thinking skills that allow you to see the big picture, consider new concepts, and apply them to solve new challenges. These skills are used whenever you need to assess complicated situations or put new information into its proper context. They are the skills needed to think through new scenarios, identify possible solutions, and create plans that apply those solutions in a way that solves problems.
Conceptual skills are also essential to ensure that people learn from past experiences and continually refine their problem-solving approach as new challenges arise. These skills are possessed by all great problem solvers and are also vital for analysis and strategic planning. Without conceptual skills, managers could not adapt systems and processes to keep up with unexpected changes.
Why are conceptual skills so vital to management?
No matter how well designed any workplace system is, changing circumstances will eventually require some form of adaptation for a business to survive and thrive. Good managers must be able to adapt and apply new solutions to deal with emerging problems. Conceptual skills give managers the tools they need to take advantage of their available resources and overcome any challenge. These skills become even more important for managers at the highest levels of a company.
Managers with well-developed conceptual skills often enjoy greater success with their teams, as they are able to understand even the most complex situations and recognize how to capitalize on opportunities. These managers can absorb new information, place it in its proper context, and adapt workplace solutions to meet challenging production needs and schedules. Their ability to see the big picture helps them navigate even the most challenging circumstances and continue to lead their teams to success.
Seven Conceptual Skills Every Good Manager Needs
As noted, conceptual skills are not a singular skill, but rather a set of skills that managers need to be successful. To help you better understand these skills, we’ve put together a list of seven key conceptual skills that every great manager should possess.
1. Abstract thinking
Abstract thinking is a vital conceptual skill, because it allows you to think outside the box even when you don’t have all the information you need. When you can think abstractly, you can connect bits of information to better understand various circumstances and challenges. An abstract thinker is able to make sense of complex information and ideas, take a step back and objectively analyze the situation, and create effective plans that help their teams meet any challenge.
2. Logical thinking
Managers must also be focused on logical thinking, to ensure that their plans and solutions are the ones that bring the most benefit to their companies. A logical thinker considers all the most relevant possibilities and factors when making his decision. This allows them to properly assess the pros and cons of any course of action.
3. Creative thinking
Creative thinking is vital to ensure that cutting-edge ideas are not neglected during any thought process. For managers, some measure of creative thinking can help inspire exploration of potential solutions that might otherwise go unnoticed. Creative thinking also helps bridge the gap between abstract thinking and logic, allowing a great manager to find a workable solution to almost any problem.
Managers cannot wait for problems to solve themselves, but must proactively seek solutions to challenges as they arise. Great managers are skilled problem solvers and can save time and resources by efficiently and effectively identifying solutions. Problem-solving skills can include a host of analytical, strategic, and planning skills.
Effective communication is also a key conceptual skill. It is not enough to be able to think outside the box and apply logic to any problem solving effort. Truly effective management also requires a manager to communicate those ideas to others in a persuasive way. Good communication builds trust among team members, sets clear boundaries of responsibility and authority, and helps motivate everyone to work toward common goals.
6. Time management
Time management may not seem conceptual in nature, but it is a necessary component of any conceptual skills toolkit. Effective time management is key to ensuring work is organized and projects are completed on time. A manager who cannot make efficient use of her time will have difficulty applying other conceptual skills effectively. Keep in mind that time management also includes things like task prioritization, delegation, and goal setting.
7. Decision making
The last of our seven conceptual skills is a key skill for all managers: decision making. Managers need to know how to make good decisions quickly and efficiently. Regardless of whether they use a value-based, fact-based, or intuitive decision-making process, their ability to choose from multiple possible decisions is vital to a manager’s success.
How you can develop your own conceptual skills
If you want to grow and succeed in a management position, you will need to develop your own conceptual skills. Here are some effective tips you can use to broaden these skills so they can advance your managerial career.
Observe other managers and leaders.
Sometimes the best way to improve your own skills is to follow in the footsteps of those who already have the skills you want to develop. Identify successful managers in your orbit and emulate their success. If you’re lucky, you might get one of them to give you some advice and insights to help you in your development, or even become your mentor. A great mentor can help guide you on a path to greater success and is well worth the effort if you really want to reach the next level in your managerial journey.
Attend business seminars.
These days, there is no shortage of business seminars to attend. Some take place in the physical world, while others can be attended to online. You can use Google to locate relevant seminars. Just choose the topic you want to learn more about and sign up! Alternatively, you can take advantage of the many podcasts and videos online that discuss skill development and other important management topics.
Keep up with changes in your industry
No matter what industry you are in, chances are you are in a constant state of evolution. One way to develop your conceptual skills is to constantly read trade magazines and other sources of information about changes in your industry. That will help ensure that you are continually being challenged with new information and new ideas.
Identify your company’s weaknesses and try to find solutions
You can also exercise your conceptual skills by participating in trial studies on your own time. For example, try to identify a weakness in one of your company’s processes or systems. Then apply various conceptual skills to explore different solutions that can improve those areas. You don’t necessarily have to present your ideas to your superiors, but you can simply use this as an opportunity to expand your conceptual capacity.
Push your own limits
Above all else, never stop trying. Skill development should be a lifelong endeavor, especially for those whose aspirations include management or leadership positions. By constantly exposing yourself to new ideas and striving to expand your skills, you can ensure that your conceptual skills can handle any new challenge that comes your way.
Add examples of conceptual skills to your resume
As you can see, conceptual skills are among the most critical skills managers rely on to successfully perform their roles. Understanding how these skills are used at all levels of managerial responsibility and the importance of developing your own conceptual skills is an important step in ensuring you have the managerial skills you need to advance your career.
Does your resume effectively communicate your conceptual skills to any potential employer? get one free resume review from our team of experts to ensure your resume sends the compelling message needed to land your next interview.