In the field of learning and development, we typically refer to technical skills as hard skills and behavioral skills as soft skills. While soft skills are less tangible than hard skills, they are actually more valuable for a potential leader to acquire. Without the skills of communication, engagement, and empowerment, leaders are not able to direct and support people in the accomplishment of goals.
For this reason, I prefer to label these as core skills instead of soft skills. I’ve been using the term for 25 years, since I first heard a speaker extol their virtues. After the session, I suggested to the presenter that if these skills are so central to communication and maximizing effectiveness and contribution, they might be better regarded as core skills. To make a long story short, both the speaker and I used that term from that day on.
People are invariably the most expensive…
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I’m droggy. I’m congested. And I’m lacking sleep. I feel like I’ve been in this state forever. But it’s only been a day. Image via Creative Commons You ever been there? If you’re like most leaders, you have. Leaders Lack Sleep In a Gallop study, research shows that, on average, 40% of the US get…
I recently coached an ambitious sales person with ten direct reports after he attended a three-day Managing People workshop customized for his employer by The Ken Blanchard Companies.
This leader was very busy, working an average of twelve hours a day. Due to scheduling conflicts, we set his first coaching session three weeks after the workshop took place. Research indicates that you lose 70 percent of what you learn within one week if you don’t use it, so we started the session by clarifying his top two challenges.
The first challenge was that he wanted to contribute more to his company and achieve a higher leadership position. The second was his desire to have his direct reports take over more of the routine problem solving so he could better balance both his managing up and managing down duties.
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“Call me irresponsible, call me unreliable
Throw in undependable too”
Frank Sinatra ~ Call Me Irresponsible (1963)
Now, I believe most people strive to be honorable and trustworthy in their leadership roles. There aren’t too many people who wake up in the morning and on their way into the office exclaim to themselves, “I think today is a fabulous day to break someone’s trust!” Most leaders unintentionally erode trust through what I call “trust busting” behaviors. Despite our best intentions, we sometimes get in our own way and bust trust without even realizing it.
I did a little crowd-sourcing with my team and asked them to send me a list of the most common trust-busting behaviors they’ve experienced from leaders in their career. The wisdom…
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As a leader, have you ever felt as if you were rowing upstream alone while your team watched from the bank, wondering what you were doing? Have you ever felt as if you were the only one carrying a sense of urgency to get something done? I’ve experienced this as a leader and I’ve also heard similar stories from leaders we’ve coached.
A leader’s responsibility is to achieve desired results through people. It works best with the collective efforts of the team and with everyone rowing in the same direction.
But many times managers and their people are not aligned on goals. For example, we conducted a survey in a leadership class, asking leaders “How well does your organization perform alignment conversations?” Out of 450 responses, 59 percent selected “Needs improvement” and 20 percent selected “What alignment conversations?” For these leaders, there was a lot of rowing upstream.
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A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat on his strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
Source – Flickr – Brian Hoffman (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)