Why is it there are some people that easily draw crowds at parties and other social gatherings while others struggle to make connections? There are a number of reasons this occurs but surely, the “people magnet” in the crowd has what we define on the MSBCoach Leadership Maturity Model (LMM) as “Advanced People Skills.” Advanced People Skills are not only valuable in daily social interactions but they are essential to good leadership. After all, projects are managed and people are led. And good leaders must be equipped with the appropriate level of job knowledge as well as the people skills necessary to optimize the team’s production and job satisfaction. Advanced People Skills include the ability to motivate and influence others. Someone with this competency is also approachable, open minded, able to read people, and is collaborative.
Thinking about the people magnet at a social gathering, what do you observe about that person? Does he monopolize the conversation or does he allow others to share their input and thoughts? Does she welcome others into the group with a smile or stand back with a discerning stare? Does he openly consider the opinions of others or make everyone else feel his opinions and ideas are the only right ones?
Now think about the aforementioned group of people in an office instead of a social gathering. Does the leader of the team facilitate meetings in a way that allows for everyone to have ownership and be empowered about the desired outcome of the session? Does he share resources and expertise with others and allow them to do the same? Does she read the “vibe” of the team while working on a project to ensure everyone understands the project goals and their role in achieving them? Does he seek ways to positively influence his fellow leaders and other colleagues to gain support for corporate initiatives?
I am reminded of a senior manager I worked with some years ago who was highly regarded for his specific area of expertise. He was highly recruited by the company and it was expected that he would be on the fast track to the C Suite. Although he possessed the job knowledge and skills necessary for the role, he lacked the Advanced People Skills to be successful. His team members didn’t feel valued because he shot down their ideas before they were ever completely heard. He appeared to be insensitive to the personal needs of his team members, and he was not collaborative in his work style. Although the work environment encouraged 360 Feedback, he was unapproachable and his team refrained from sharing how they felt about his leadership. Needless to say, the team’s productivity, morale, and overall effectiveness quickly became impacted. In addition, the company suffered because there was higher than average turnover on his team which negatively affected the bottom line. Fortunately, the senior leadership of the company recognized something was amiss. After much coaching, I’m glad to say, the senior manager was able to turn things around for himself and his team. The ability to mesh his Advanced People Skills with his existing subject matter knowledge created a leader who became an attribute to the company instead of a liability.
Do you have the right Advanced People Skills to be an effective leader? How do you show up in the workplace to your colleagues? Do you easily get the desired results you want from the individuals you work with or do you find yourself “pulling teeth” to get things done with others? If the latter is true, take time to reflect on your Advanced People Skills. Seek input from others on how they see you as a collaborator, influencer, and motivator. Listen to an idea that you might not agree with and consider the possibilities of that idea. Exude the warmth to others that lets them know you are approachable. Welcome each day on your leadership journey with these thoughts and the leader you want to be is possibly a few smiles away.