Soft Skills for a Hard Place

millennials-200x192Daniel Goleman in his groundbreaking book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” might have said it best: “We are being judged by a new yardstick; not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other”.  Times have certainly changed. I think there has been a dramatic shift in people’s attitudes. Their wants and needs are changing. For the first time in our lifetime we have the potential of working with 4 different generations in the same workplace at the same time. Each generation communicates and interacts differently and want to be managed and manage differently. Each generation have a different set of values and career aspirations. For the newest generation – the Millennials – life outside of work is just as important,  if not more important,  then life inside work. Each generation is motivated by different things. What you need to decide now is – will the management style that got you here – be the same style that will sustain you or get you to where you need to go? Is one style of managing and leading others good enough?

Worth Remembering … “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing – expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein

Productivity is still the name of the game and that will never change. One of your roles as a manager or leader has always been to minimize the input and maximize the output. In today’s ever-changing, competitive global marketplace you need to produce more with less. Your survival and your company’s survival demands it. To accomplish both – managers and leaders must change from being task-focused to being people-focused. People like to work with people they like. People like to feel wanted. People like to feel that they are appreciated and respected.

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of every business and that’s people”. – Oprah Winfrey

Technical skills are important but, for the most part, you can get that out of a book or Google it. What is needed to be successful managing and leading others in the 21st Century are soft-skills, sometimes referred to as people skills. Successful managers and leaders will be those who have developed great soft-skills for a hard place. Successful managers and business leaders are F.O.C.U.S.E.D. (C) on their most important asset – their people.

Friendly: Someone who can smile and say hello. Someone who can make the other person feel important.

Observant: Someone who can recognize those that need help and those that don’t. Someone who will get out of their way and let them do the job.

Consistent: Some who is consistent in the way that they apply policies and procedures. Consistent in the way they treat people and deal with situations.

Understanding: Someone who tries to see things from the other person’s point of view. Empathy is a valuable 21st Century skill to have.

Sincere: Someone who truly wants their people to be successful at what they do. Managing and leading others is a team sport – create win-wins.

Energized: Someone who is enthusiastic. Someone who looks and acts like they want to be there.

Dependable: Someone whose word they can depend on. Someone they can trust. If they can’t trust your word they won’t trust you.

Are you F.O.C.U.S.E.D.?  🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. Brian is the author of “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or organizing a workshop? Contact Brian. briansmithpld@gmail.com

 

The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century 3

images (1)It doesn’t matter what environment you work in – retail, manufacturing, construction or the corporate world, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and the next decade. Your success as a manager or business leader is no longer dependent on your technical ability alone. Soft-skills – your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization. It doesn’t matter what book you read, the workshops you participate in, or the seminars you attend, know for certain that there are no silver bullets here. Unless you are committed to a new way of managing and leading others you will get left behind. The workplace is changing and if you don’t adapt to keep pace with those changes you stand the risk of falling by the wayside.

Do you feel at times that your staff are turned off or have tuned out? Is it getting more challenging to motivate others? Are you finding it difficult to attract or retain talent? You are not alone. Gallup’s ongoing survey findings indicate that 70 % of workers are not engaged. According to Gallup   “Millennials are most likely of all the generations to say that they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves”. If you want to re-engage the disengaged and attract new talent then you need to master the art of managing and leading in the 21st Century.

The Four Step Leadership Development Model (C)

I believe the key to retaining and attracting new talent is to develop and fashion your leadership style around these four easier said then done disciplines:

Congregate: People work for people they like. Learn how to build collaborative teams and develop those all important relationships.  No one is successful by themselves. Together everyone achieves more. Always keep in mind that you need your people a great deal more than they need you.

Communicate: If you can’t communicate, then you can’t manage or lead others. If you can’t communicate in a language that others will understand – then whatever you say will mean absolutely nothing. You can never communicate too much. Be open and receptive to what others have to say. Give your people a voice.

Educate: People aren’t born knowing what they need to know – it’s a learned behavior. It’s your responsibility as a manager or leader to teach them the skills needed to take the organization to where it needs to go. Take the time to discover what your people do well and then put them in positions where they can play to their strengths.

Delegate: Surround yourself with people who do some things better than you do. You’ve got to give up control to get control. If you aren’t sharing some of your responsibilities with the people around you  – you are robbing them of their opportunity to grow. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith. Excerpts taken from Brian’s soon to be published second book – “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century” (C) To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Move Over Gents – It’s The Ladies Turn To Lead

In the words of Bob Dylan – “The times they are a changing” – And I for one – applaud it. Frankly it’s about time. I’m pleased to see that more and more women are now taking back their right to choose; the right to choose when and if they want children – without feeling guilty if they choose not to have children at all. I’m pleased to see that more and more women are now taking back their right to choose when and if they want a career outside of the traditional family model. (Try managing the family home on your own and then tell me that’s not work.)

It’s great to see that more and more women are now managing and leading Fortune 500 Companies. That more and more women are now starting their own small businesses. Matter of fact they are out pacing men in that category. They’ve taken the management skills they developed managing the family home and are now applying them in the business world. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – 10.1 Million firms are owned by women – employing more than 13 Million people. One in five of all firms generating 1 Million dollars or more in sales are owned by women. The total number of sales generated by firms owned by women topped 1.1 Trillion dollars in 2008. (These are American numbers but women are outpacing men in starting small businesses in Canada as well)

Dee Dee Myers – Author of “Why Women Should Rule The World” believes that women are more successful at running small businesses because women can make people accountable for their actions, but, they can also be there to support them. “Females have that trait, where maybe most males do not” – The trait that Myers is talking about it empathy – The ability to see things from another persons point of view. As Myers suggests – women come by it naturally – men on the other hand have to work at it.  If your success as a manager is predicated on your ability to build relationships and develop collaborative teams then what better skill is there to have then empathy? After all think of a job that you could have in your life time that didn’t involve communicating and interacting effectively with people. (There isn’t any)

Research conducted by Distinguished Professor Julia T. Wood – Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina and Deborah Frances Tannen – Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University may also explain why women have made tremendous inroads into a territory once considered a “man’s” domain.

Wood’s and Tannen’s research produced the following theories:

  • Men and women have different ways of showing support, interests and caring. .
  • Women tend to see communication as a way to connect and enhance a sense of closeness in a relationship. Men see communication as a way to accomplish objectives.
  • Men emphasize independence and are less likely to ask for help in accomplishing an objective. Where as women seek out and welcome relationships.
  • Women are inclined to express agreement and support, while men are more inclined to debate.
  • Women are more inclined to face each other and make eye contact when talking while men are more likely to look away.
  • Men tend to jump from topic to topic but women tend to talk at length on one topic at a time.

A very dear and close personal friend of mine likes to remind me now and again that she doesn’t need a man in her life to “complete” her. She’s capable enough to do that all on her own. After all she’s been operating her own very successful small business now for over 30 years. She knows who she is. She’s not afraid to speak up and ask for what she wants. That’s one of the many qualities I love and admire about her.

Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted as saying – “Women around the world are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”. After all – it’s easy to argue that men haven’t been doing such a great job of managing things lately.

The glass ceiling is still there. The key to breaking through that barrier in today’s world has more to do with your ability to get along with people. And in today’s world women seem to be better equipped to do that.