4 Skills of Great Credit Managers

Leadership development remains at the forefront everywhere you look. There is an amazing plethora of books, models, training programs and paradigms of what constitutes outstanding management and leadership behaviour of strong performing teams and organisations. Some say you are born a leader whilst others say everyone can become one.

The focus on leadership development is huge! But what about managers?  One really cannot do without the other. This is because leaders look outward to ensure the survival of their organisation; managers need to take an inward approach to ensure the survival of their people.


This echoes the view of the largest scale management and employee engagement research, conducted by Gallup in their 2nd edition of FIRST, Break all the Rules (2016).

It is an in-depth and insightful study interviewing 80,000 managers and 1,000,000 employees. This goldmine of information provides Credit Professionals with an abundance of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

A key insight of this study uncovered four core skills areas, which the managers felt were paramount to building successful teams.

  1. Select the right person
  2. Set expectations
  3. Motivate the person
  4. Develop the person

In a recent article Navigate your way to credit success I briefly touched on two of the above four skills. We looked at motivations, and the importance of developing staff based on their intrinsic motivations. The study highlights this fact, indicating the manager’s role to be a catalyst for drawing out a person’s unique talent in order to deliver outstanding performance.

Having coached and developed Credit Managers and teams for most of my corporate life, I think it is fair to say that an outstanding Credit Manager has the ability to cultivate empowerment, capability and results.

In order to see how this translates to the 4 core skills, let us start by understanding these in more detail.

4 Core Skills of Credit Managers


Great Credit Managers have strong performing credit teams built on the strength of their people. This is a two-way street and therefore I have two equally valuable reasons for including indicators within each skill area.

The first reason, is to assist existing Credit Managers with a way to evaluate how well they execute these skills. Secondly, to assist Credit Professionals who are keen to develop their potential and learn about leading others. Let’s have a closer look.

1. Select the right person

Whether recruiting or considering a person for promotion, the Credit Manager stands to win if selecting the right person is not simply based on experience, intelligence or determination. Understanding the person’s unique strengths (intrinsic motivational drivers) creates a solid foundation for future development.

The Credit Manager selects for talent. Indicators that the Credit Manager selects the right person include their ability to:

  • Identify potential and select the right person
  • Create space for talent to develop
  • Maintain transparency with their own manager to identify opportunities for strengthening the team
  • Be tough yet empathetic when proactively replacing bottom 10% performers

2. Set expectations

Understanding roles and responsibilities will help Credit Managers to clearly prioritise and set objectives. It is equally important to obtain agreement on objectives from each person without dictating constraints around their motivations.

The Credit Manager defines the right outcomes. Indicators that the Credit Manager sets expectations includes ensuring that each person:

  • Has a clear understanding of how their objectives are prioritised and how it aligns with the overall objectives of the organisation
  • Has a regular opportunity for performance reviews to address issues or have issues addressed when needed
  • Has a clear understanding between actual and required performance levels

3. Motivate the person

Employee engagement is not an easy responsibility, especially within large teams. Thus having an understanding of the person’s innate strengths (rather than weaknesses) allows the Credit Manager to balance both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Or in other words, ensuring alignment of both the person’s and organisation’s goals for optimal engagement.

The Credit Manager focuses on the person’s strengths. Indicators that the Credit Manager motivates the person includes the ability to:

  • Identify and uncover potential and motivation in the person
  • Constructively give both positive and negative feedback
  • Actively coach and develop the person through questions rather than telling
  • Execute agreed personal development plans

4. Develop the person

The time for ‘first in, first served’ no longer holds when it comes to internal promotions. For a credit team to be successful, the manager has to consider the person’s strength coupled with the organisation’s direction for growth.

The Credit Manager finds the right fit. Indicators that the Credit Manager develops the person include:

  • Maintaining well-documented behavioural and performance assessments for accurate growth and development of the person
  • Taking an interest in the person’s personal and professional development
  • Providing transparency of whether the person needs to develop in their current role or whether they can take a position with more responsibility


To answer the earlier question of how a Credit Manager with the ability to cultivate empowerment, capability and results, incorporates these four core skills can perhaps be summed up in one sentence.

A successful credit team is one that harnesses individual strength with integrated skills and knowledge, to consistently deliver outstanding results.

How would you describe your team in one sentence?


If you found this article interesting you can subscribe and follow my credit blog My 2 cents worth and stay up to date across topics in personal & leadership development, the neuroscience of conversations, and practical credit skills. For a head start to making positive changes,  download your Goal-Plan-Success lite workbook. It’s free, relevant, and will absolutely help you grow and develop your credit potential!

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