Undervalued People Skills Are Expensive

By Ann
August 1, 2007

Making the numbers is a desirable trait of leaders. Who wouldn't want the leader of a company to make the numbers? If you are grooming leaders for your company, pay attention to their people skills as well as their ability to make the numbers.

The CEO of a bank lamented to me the lack of people skills in promising young executives.  He acknowledged that he is responsible to provide training for his team to learn the soft skills as well as the technical skills of banking.  He understands his role is to remove obstacles and provide opportunities for his team so they can achieve success for themselves as well as the bank.

Development Dimensions International reports in their 2005/2006 Leadership Forecast that "About one-third of internally sourced leaders fail, usually because of poor people skills or interpersonal skills."  According to this same report, leaders themselves believe that the most respected trait of leadership is bringing in the numbers.

DDI goes on to say it is easy to understand why leaders believe this because they are rewarded for making their financial and organizational goals.  Developing people, building a team, and creating a culture of collaboration don't show upon the balance sheet and can take a long time to demonstrate measurable results.

There are significant costs for business and individuals who have underdeveloped interpersonal skills and people skills.

1.  The ability to accomplish even routine operations is diminished.

2.  More attention is placed on getting even, proving you are right, or nursing hurt feelings than on getting the job done.

3.  Protecting yourself is more important than teamwork and collaboration.

4.  Employees leave to find better working environments.

5.  Customers leave to find better customers service, products or service.

"It doesn't cost a thing to be nice to someone," admonished my mother.  If it doesn't cost anything to be courteous and civil, why not make a point of doing it?

There are simple and cost effective solutions to building these soft skills in your business. 

1.  Assess your own personal skills and interpersonal skills first.  What you don't know you don't know can hurt you so ask someone you trust to give you candid feedback.

2.  Lead by example.  It starts at the top.

3.  Expect everyone in your business to behave respectfully, courteously, and civilly to everyone inside and outside.  No exceptions.

4.  Provide feedback and training for your team to develop soft skills as well as technical skills.

5.  Strengthen your giving muscles.  Can you give away too much?

6.  You have an unlimited reserve of good will and giving it away does not deplete your resources.

7.  Courtesy, civility, good will, kindness, and appreciation are powerful not forceful.  They strengthen the individual and the organization.

Have you packed your manners? I'd ask my children this question as they headed off to spend the night with a friend or some other event.  What can you do in your business to equip your team to succeed not only with technical skills but interpersonal skills and people skills?

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