Richard Leider, a founding partner of the Inventure Group, wrote in Forbes magazines, “People don’t leave companies; they leave leaders.” In our world where internet openness provides a format for making quick, and sometimes regrettable comments, and where email and text communication is used too frequently in place of a personal conversation, how important are people skills in leaders?
Unfortunately, many leaders don’t understand the power of the human connection. Making things happen still requires the ability to make people like you, respect you, listen to you, and want to connect to you.
Fostering People Skills
Development Dimensions International, a global human resource consulting firm, identified these leadership strengths related heavily to developing good people skills:
- Avoid Leadership Arrogance.
Former head of Russia, Boris Yeltsin said it well, “You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long.” A ‘real’ leader isn’t afraid ask for input, or to let followers know he/she is human and sometimes makes mistakes.
- Demonstrate Empathy.
Trusting followers enough to allow them time off for family matters, and understanding the importance of taking each circumstance into consideration even when there is a blanket rule shows empathy. Learning to listen without judgement can be really hard, but is also really important.
- Give Generous Amounts of Recognition.
It’s not hard to find things to recognize. I received flowers this week from my team leader because I had a 15-year job anniversary. It felt great to be recognized.
- Communicate an Exciting Vision.
We often use Appreciative Inquiry as a method for strategic planning sessions. One of the key parts to this method is allowing the planners to dream. While some of the dreams may seem unattainable, it’s surprising how often the planners can tweak the ideas into a very doable strategy. The ability to voice a shared vision motivates people enough to step up and work hard to make it happen.
As we all try to be leaders that keep people motivated and moving forward, don’t forget to keep learning and developing those important people skills.