ATD Blog

ACCEL: Model of a Winning Manager

Monday, January 30, 2017

ACCEL: The Skills That Make a Winning Manager, a new report from the Association for Talent Development (ATD) sponsored by Columbia Business School, examines the development of five specific skills—accountability, communication, collaboration, engagement, and listening and assessing—that are crucial to managerial success. Together, these five skills comprise the ACCEL model.

Defining the ACCEL Model 

Accountability: Accountability skills refer to performance management and the delegation of responsibility to direct reports. Managers who are adept at creating a culture of accountability encourage team members to be accountable for self-development and meeting their own development goals. 

Collaboration: Collaboration is defined as creating an environment and culture of teamwork (in this case, the team comprises the manager and direct reports). Managers who excel in this skill foster trust and relationships between all team members, clarify team roles, and encourage cooperation toward achieving a common goal. By encouraging trust and relationship building between team members, direct reports can share knowledge with and learn from one another. 

Communication: Communication is defined as the exchange of information and feedback between managers and their direct reports. Communication also involves a willingness to engage in three types of conversations with employees: disciplinary, coaching, and praise. Managers who are adept at communication foster a transparent, open, and honest team atmosphere. At the individual level, effective communication—including targeted, actionable feedback—can build awareness and action toward better employee performance. 


Engagement: Engagement is defined as motivating, inspiring, and involving one’s direct reports. Engaged employees understand their specific role and its importance. By engaging team members, managers will have direct reports who are psychologically committed to their work and who make positive contributions to their own development and the company. 

Listening and Assessing: Listening and assessing involves the information-gathering, critical-thinking, and processing skills of a manager during interactions with direct reports. Listening and assessing also encompasses emotional intelligence, which entails recognizing one’s own and others’ emotions and using emotional information to guide one’s behavior and assessments. Managers who are skilled at listening and assessing use these abilities to identify areas of strength and improvement in direct reports.

Key Findings From the Study


In late 2015, ATD Research conducted a short survey of nearly 300 talent development leaders (managers and above) to identify the top skills most associated with successful frontline managers. The ACCEL skills were selected for inclusion in the framework because they had the highest percentage of participants indicating that each contributed to success in managing others to a high or very high extent. In fact, 83 percent of participants said that communication is the skill most related to success as a manager, followed by engagement (76 percent), listening and assessing (71 percent), accountability (70 percent), and collaboration (69 percent). 

Several other key findings from the research are: 

  • Less than half (46 percent) of respondents indicated that their organization had identified the specific skills related to managerial success in developing direct reports.
  • The majority of participants (56 percent) reported that their organization measured managers’ success in developing their direct reports by looking at the performance of their direct reports based on business metrics.
  • Nearly a third of respondents (29 percent) indicated that their organization rewards and recognizes managers who exhibit accountability skills. This is a higher percentage than for any other ACCEL skill.
  • Just less than two-thirds of participants (63 percent) reported that managers are trained in ACCEL skills areas through instructor-led real classrooms. 

Want to learn more? Check out ACCEL: The Skills That Make a Winning Manager to learn:

  • the barriers that prevent managers from exhibiting ACCEL skills
  • how ACCEL skills training is typically delivered
  • what type of measurement is used to determine success in developing direct reports
  • if success in exhibiting ACCEL skills is rewarded and recognized.
About the Author

ATD Research tracks trends, informs decisions, and connects research to performance. By providing comprehensive data and insightful analysis, ATD Research Reports help business leaders and workplace learning and performance professionals understand and more effectively respond to today's fast-paced workplace learning and development industry. Our research reports offer an empirical foundation for today's data-driven decision-makers, containing both quantitative and qualitative analysis about organizational learning, human capital management, training, and performance.

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