One major obstacle to a leader’s success is a lack of people skills. Leaders who cannot work effectively with people are often demoted, asked to leave, or bounce from company to company. Most leaders are hired or promoted because they are highly intelligent, have a strong work ethic, possess strong technical skills, and display a high level of business-savvy. Unfortunately, people skills are rarely taken into consideration. Making matters worse, we often find a lack of commitment by many leaders to ongoing leadership development.
The good news is that leaders are not condemned to a life of poor people skills. Just as leaders require training and skill development in technical expertise and business processes, they also need training in people skills. This is especially true for leaders who desire to successfully navigate the challenges of interpersonal and team dynamics.
When it comes to leadership skills, leaders can choose one of two paths: the Random Walk or the Purposeful Journey.
In our leadership coaching experiences, we encourage people to take the purposeful journey: intentionally developing one’s leadership skills in a structured planned way. At Makarios, we use the TOP (Technical, Organizational, People) model to illustrate three critical sets of skills leaders must develop in order to be successful. Picture your company as a round stool. If the stool has only two legs – Technical and Organizational Skills – it will fall over. The third leg – People Skills – is critical to make the stool stable. Let’s define these skills:
Technical Skills: means you have the ability to use the knowledge, methods, techniques, and equipment necessary to perform the key tasks of your job.
Organizational Skills: means you understand the overall organization and the interrelationships among its parts so that you can complete projects on time, on budget, and at the highest possible quality.
People Skills: means you can effectively motivate, facilitate, coordinate, communicate with, and influence others.
In our work over the years with exemplary leaders, we have discovered that they possess high skill levels in each of the categories above, especially people skills. We also have discovered they exemplify a common trait: they take very seriously the development of their leadership skills. They look for every opportunity to learn from experts, study best practices, attend seminars, and continually practice what they learned until they “get it right.” Just as a professional athlete must continually practice and hone his or her craft, so, too, must effective leaders commit to continuous development of their leadership skills. Leadership is not inherited; it is a skill you must actively pursue.
At Makarios Consulting, we are dedicated to developing leaders in your organization through expert training and coaching. You may wish to read more about our highly regarded program, The Complete Leader.