How To Build Management Capabilities

If I were managing you, I would be tasking you on a regular basis to propose solutions…

Last updated on January 26th, 2022 at 05:06 am

This question was posted on

“Where do I get a comprehensive list of management capabilities to build?”

Here’s the…other news: there is no singular list that exists for everyone, as the management contexts have both enormous breadth and depth. Specific career fields and contexts affect (what I’ll call) the local list of management capabilities applicable to any individual. There are many commonalities; but there also are many application differences.

On the other hand…


Here is an initial attempt to assemble a very high-level taxonomy of management-related capabilities: (.pdf) and (FreeMind file).

This “taxonomy” uses the FreeMind application (, with heavy reliance upon for reference information. The intent of such a taxonomy is to provide the big picture; to identify the components and their relationships, and then to be able to drill down to detail in any one area. Going forward, as I discover or work through relevant and applicable material, it will be referenced in the taxonomy.

The taxonomy is a start, and is not yet comprehensive; but, can be built upon to apply specific professional fields and contexts. (I’m using it in parallel with my note-taking application to build a reference library on management components, capability, and tools; the content being assembled from the Internet and my archives. Eventually, I’ll integrate a wide variety of tools and management models as I flesh out subordinate layers.)

Use this taxonomy as a start for the big picture…

Your Local List

It’s important to work with those in both your professional field and specific context (i.e., your firm) to identify your “local list” of capabilities. For example, working with your principals (management team, stakeholders, etc.), coaches, mentor(s), and professional association(s), you can identify that 20/80% split in context. Basically, you will build your list over time by working with your principals and others.

Your local list will be heavily affected by local problems to be solved, as those problems provide the opportunity to develop capabilities.

Enter performance appraisals and career planning: you plan and build your local list via these activities. You discover items for the list by working (the problems) in the firm everyday. You also discover items based on the items evaluated within the performance appraisal; these will indicate basic capabilities important to the firm, and important to you.

Use the taxonomy as a frame of reference to start your local list, and flesh it out over time. Target new capabilities in each performance [appraisal] cycle.


Some capabilities are common, and some are fundamental; such as those mentioned in the prior posts above, and capabilities such as the business case, communication, and the (basic) five functions of management.

“But how can I get a full perspective on specific management capabilities to build (which could take a number of years but I can get started right now)?”

See the taxonomy node labeled “Common Tools” for a short list of common capabilities. Start there, and add to this list based on the present “problems” and your performance appraisal. List these in your career plan with target dates. (E.g., business case capability NLT 2QCY14.)

Get Organized

In terms of you local list of capabilities, you and others have identified a large and diverse set of problems over the past six months that could serve as vehicles for capability development. You’ve received a lot of information here, there, everywhere. Have you recorded this information in your archives? If not, then you’ll have a difficult time retrieving it, collating it, referencing it, and over time using it to build your local list of capabilities.

First, capture raw data.

So, I suggest that you organize your information store and start capturing the various pieces of information, for later correlation and use.

This has direct benefit to building your local list of capabilities. For example, there are myriad “opportunities” implied or referenced in the numerous threads you’ve started over the past six months. (There are also many ideas for dealing with issues.) Have you captured and stored this information for later correlation and reference?

Second, start your taxonomy.

“Management,” the function in your field and context, is multifaceted and multidimensional, just like anything else. If you address it a piece at a time out of context, you will have much difficulty understanding where each piece fits, and how pieces relate. So, start a taxonomy framework to put pieces into perspective (i.e., relationship). Use the taxonomy referenced above, as an example (or a seed) within your field and context. Use your local sources (Principals, stakeholders, etc.) for local content.

Third, allocate new information to the taxonomy.

As you encounter problems, identify the management capability that may apply, and enter that into your taxonomy, if not already present. This will have the attendant benefit of identifying “major recurring issues” that you need to work on, thereby supporting prioritization of building your capabilities.

Fourth, review and allocate.

On a regular basis, say…performance appraisal intervals, review and select capabilities to build in the next period. Work with your principal to address these within your performance appraisal and development cycle.

If Harry Was the Boss…

If I were managing you, I would be tasking you on a regular basis to propose solutions to various problems I (or the management team) encountered; problems that fell within or were affected by your professional field. Because my role is to accomplish predetermined objectives through others, I’d use you to figure out solutions to those problems. I’d frame the tasking as a “process problem that needs fixing; please propose a solution.” (And, I would provide guidance.)

Because I want to improve the business (which my compensation depends upon), I know that I have to improve your performance (among other things) as part of the business improvement. So, I get two benefits by tasking you: the problem gets fixed, and you get better at fixing problems for this business.

Can you see benefit to yourself?

Leave a Reply