Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the relative importance of task, relations, and change capabilities of managers at low, middle, and top hierarchical levels. Design/methodology/approach: Data were gathered from performance reviews and evaluations from human resources personnel for 2,307 managers in one large company in a high-tech industry. Separate regressions for each management level were performed with standardized regression coefficients allowing comparisons across the different regressions. Findings: Significant differences were observed in the effectiveness of managers using task, relations, and change capabilities. At top management, change-oriented capabilities become 2 to 3 times more important than at the lowest level. Task-oriented capabilities become significantly less important at the top level. Relations-oriented capabilities are important at all levels. Research limitations/implications: Studies with participants from multiple industries and longitudinal studies could benefit research by further validating the findings and offering new insights on other situational factors, which change over time. Practical implications: Managers, who have been successful in lower and middle positions, may not necessarily be effective top managers. Originality/value: Few studies have explored differences in managerial capabilities at different hierarchical levels in organizations. The study offers a clear rationale to consider when conducting any analysis of different levels of management by practitioners or researchers.