Good Leaders Know that Interpersonal Skills Matter

I read things and I keep ones that I want to cover in this blog. This article is one that I’ve had on the back burner for a while, and because it is a topic I am passionate about, it moved to the front of the line.

“A New Approach to Highly Effective Leadership” asks how can we make all leaders highly effective? The author, Brian Braudis, references research by the Carnegie Institute of Technology (85% of our personal financial success is due to human engineering—our personality, ability to communicate, negotiate and lead), psychologist Daniel Kahneman (people would rather do business with someone they like and trust rather than someone they don’t like, even if the likeable person has a lower quality offering at a higher price), and the Center for Creative Leadership (the number one cause of executive derailment is weak or missing interpersonal skills).

I don’t know Brian Braudis, but wow, I like this guy. I’ve been trying to get people to understand this for at least 15 years!

I think about my jobs, even the ones I had in high school. The bosses I liked, respected, and gave more than 100% for are the ones who had good interpersonal skills. They were open minded, communicative, even keeled even in high stress situations, and a calming or reasonable force when things went awry or got tense. The bosses I disliked, didn’t respect, and really didn’t give 100% were the polar opposites of the ones described above.

I’ve tried (and hopefully succeeded for the most part) to be the kind of boss I like, respect, and give 100+% for. I’ve also tried to cover the importance of good interpersonal skills with leaders I’ve worked with, whether participants in training sessions, or in coaching situations.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a fairly transparent person when it comes to emotions. So, I have to work on being the leader with good interpersonal skills. Which to me has two different aspects, the first is how I react to things, and the second is how I approach things. The latter is definitely in my control (and in every leaders’ control) – what am I getting at? It is things like giving feedback constructively and not judgmentally, it is listening for understanding, it is communicating thoughtfully, etc. The former is also in my control, but a little harder since the reaction is based on something beyond my control. As an example, based on something from Brian’s article, if I am cut off in traffic, I am going to react, and how I react is based on the situation. If I am in Maine going to the post office and someone thinks I am going too slow he or she may pass me and cut back into my lane a little too close for my comfort. My reaction is probably going to be, whatever…I’m in no rush and there is no one else around so the other person annoyed me, but didn’t cause any real problems. If I am in Houston, in bumper to bumper traffic, my reaction would probably be very different because the other person’s actions may have caused me having to hit on my breaks and worry about possibly getting rear-ended by someone else. Hopefully I can temper my reaction and not be flustered or angry…and not get hit by the car behind me. (And, hopefully you are getting what I am getting at so I am going to get off of this tangent.)

So, yes, I have control on how I approach things, and I really do have control on how I react, even though it takes effort on my part. I also have some control on how others deliver things – I probably can’t get the other driver to take a defensive driving course, but I can (and I have) encourage my team to improve their interpersonal skills. They can take a course on giving effective feedback, or they can work with me or someone else on improving listening skills or communicating effectively. This way, they can improve their approach, which will make it easier for me (and others me) to manage my (their) reactions.

Peek Learning Consultants does not provide any training or coaching on driving skills, but I can help you and your team improve interpersonal skills. Contact me for more information.

To read the article I referenced, here is the link:

#Leadership #Management

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