When a community manager is hired to a company, the management may only have a very vague idea what communities are about, how benefit from one and what they can do without driving away the community members. Because of this, a community manager may need to educate the management on how to build a good and mutually beneficial relationship between the community and the company. This may also require rethinking company's business models and internal processes.
Understanding management personalities Edit
It can be very useful to know the personality traits of the company management you work with, both directly or indirectly (through co-workers). This helps maintain good relations to them, as well as formulate your suggestions in a way that pleases them most and is thus most likely to get implemented.
Understanding community dynamics Edit
Communities may seem abstract, hard to grasp concepts to many people, and constructive discussion is only possible if all parties have a grasp of the basic concepts involved. The job of the community manager is to make sure the management knows without saying what they can and can't do, and when they should consult the community manager before acting. If this basic level of understanding is not reached, the management might make bad decisions that cause havoc in the community. If this happens, it's the job of the community manager to salvage whatever is left.
Underlining the benefits from having a strong community Edit
One of the challenges in community management is to show what benefits the company gets by having a strong community around it. As communities take time to grow, no concrete numbers will be available initially to convince the management. Case studies which show how other similar companies have benefited from communities are useful, as are thorough explanations of why, in your case, it makes sense to build a strong community.
Once the community has started to form, it is easier to gather measurable data to show the management what tangible benefits the new and improved community management strategy has. Many things can be measured, such as number of patches coming in to the project, shortening of the software release cycle, documentation contributions, etc.