Future Skills You Need Insight From the Management 4.0 Project

Monday 29 July 2019
CMI Has Been Looking at the Future of Management and the Modern Workplace for Our Management 4.0 Campaign. Here Are Some of the Skills All Budding Managers Will Need
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Workplaces are changing at a rapid rate, and will be completely removed from traditional ways of working in the coming decades. It is already happening: technologies, and the companies that create them, are taking away some tasks and creating others, forcing us all to rethink our skills and how we apply them.

As a budding manager at the very beginning of your career, you’re in a great position to adapt to this new way of working. However, that’s not to say it won’t be a challenge – you’ve gone through an education system that has taught you some essential skills, but not necessarily how you apply them in the modern world. CMI’s Management 4.0 campaign breaks down all the ways in which the world of work is changing, so you can see where you click in.

Old management styles, such as command and control, are already being phased out of the workplace. In their place, new styles of management are emerging, such as inclusive or diverse leadership; New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received praise for her modern, empathetic style of leadership.

Digital leadership is also becoming prominent. The tech-savvy leaders adopting these programs early increase their own understanding of technology to take advantage of digital, data, and AI opportunities. These skills will make the most successful leaders stand out from the good leaders as the workplace becomes more connected.

So what are the skills you’ll need to be a brilliant manager in 2020 and beyond? We spoke to Peter Donlon, CTO of Moonpig for his views on the subject.

The greetings card titan dominates its market through its tech-first, innovative approach to its product. Behind the scenes, the company has also structured itself around new thinking when it comes to management. Here are Donlon’s top skills all future leaders need to know:

Coaching Skills

“As we constantly thrive for more agility in teams, the importance of a manager becomes more about coaching and mentoring and personal development than it does command and control. A manager will need to know how to get the most out of an individual. It could be a combination of mentoring on some specific capabilities, or coaching some personal growth – it’s down to what will work for the individual. They need to operate in an ever more collaborative world, and so a manager’s time starts revolving around how you get different teams working together, and that’s very different to a world in which you’re stood there telling people what to do.”

Tech Savviness

“Over the past 10-15 years, there’s definitely been an introduction of basic tools – stuff that removes the overheads of traditional management, such as sickness and holiday. Now, we’re moving into a world where performance management and personal development is really, really important. There are some good tools that help managers turn that into an ongoing thing, rather than an annual conversation.

“We use a tool called 15Five: every week, staff answer a few questions about their performance, concerns, and areas they’d like to develop. It’s very light touch, and it frames a really good, productive conversation between a manager and a direct report. That’s just one example, but it’s something that really does enhance the relationship between manager and employee, and the technology is just the facilitator of it.”

Nuanced Communication

“To be an effective manager, communication should be at the heart of everything that you do. The key thing here is that your communication style has to be adaptable, depending on the situation and the message you’re trying to land. Is it feedback about how someone develops? Is it positive reinforcement? You need to be able to shift styles in order to communicate those effectively. The only way you can develop this is through practice and gaining feedback. It’s not something you can read a book about and be good at.”


“It’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of capability; it’s at the heart of building a strong, trusting relationship, which ultimately will lead to better performance. This would never have been considered an essential trait of a manager traditionally, but it certainly is now. Developing vulnerability is a difficult one; a lot of it is how you build up a more intimate and personal relationship. That doesn’t mean sharing what you did outside of work – it’s about getting to a place where you have trust, you can be open, and you’ve built up your ability to give and receive feedback.”


“Traditionally, if you were talking about the traits of good managers, you would have mentioned delegation, time management and organisational skills. But a lot of that is solved through a manager’s ability to empower their team. Those things won’t be a problem if you’ve set your team up in the right way. The more the team is empowered to execute things themselves, with the coaching of their manager, the more effective that manager is going to be.”

Thinking about the route of your career path? Read more about figuring out the future of your career here.

Are you ready to be in the next generation of managers and leaders? Find out more with CMI’s Management 4.0.

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