The Missing Piece of Leadership: Developing Human Skills in the Workplace

Take just a moment to imagine something for me…

Let’s say you grew up with a passion for widgets.

You love everything about them – the way they look, the sounds they make, the weight of them in your hand when you hold them. And all you want to do when you get older is make widgets.

You start going to school and you excel in all your widget-related classes. And then you go to university and you graduate with a degree in advanced widgetology. And then, the day finally comes when you get a great job at a great widget warehouse, and you get to spend all day doing what you love: making widgets.

And because you love it, you are great at it! So great, in fact, that you make more widgets and better widgets than anyone in your warehouse.

And then, you are rewarded with a promotion: head of widget production.

At first you are thrilled. After all, it is a promotion. But then you learn that now, as a leader, you will be spending your time… leading. Now you have all this weight of expectation on top of you and you must lead, develop, and manage the men and women on your floor – not make widgets.

All that has happened, really, is that your team has lost a great executor and your management has gained an ill-equipped leader.

Now, imagine that this is what most promotions look like in the corporate world today: asking an excellent technician to suddenly become an excellent leader. And then imagine what that must mean for most organizations: that most of their teams are being led by leaders who never really learned what it is to lead!

Their leaders are great at fulfilling the roles of their team members, but they don’t know how to help their team members fulfill those roles.

In a recent talk, author and corporate expert Simon Sinek spoke about the kind of skills necessary for the workplace: hard skills, those you need in order to do your job, and human skills, those you need in order to “be a better human,” as he puts it, or work better with others. He notes that some human skills are lacking in today’s workforce, and this is all the more true for today’s leaders. Take a minute to assess how you fare in these three areas he notes are lacking in today’s workforce…

1. Having difficult conversations.

Healthy and hearty navigation of relationships is not for the faint of heart – and that’s saying nothing of leadership. Leading a team will put you in some hard positions. Leaders do not have the luxury of avoiding problems – especially people problems. Talking through tough issues is a crucial leadership skill.

How do you approach difficult conversations with your team? Are you able to strike a balance of sensitive and effective? Can you tailor your message to each member’s communication style so that they hear what you’re trying to say?

2. Having effective confrontation.

I bet your blood pressure went up a bit just reading the word “confrontation!”

Confrontation is a complicated topic – so complicated, in fact, that team members and their leaders are becoming less and less likely to engage with it at all. It is easier to deal with the consequences of a problem than it is to confront the problem and solve it. But even when confrontation takes place, it is like any other art – it requires skill to execute.

How do you manage confrontation with your team? And are you able to get a positive outcome out of each confrontation?

3. Giving and receiving feedback.

Studies show that team members actually want more feedback from their leaders – and more often, since once-annual feedback given in their annual reviews has little to no effect on their job performance.

Well-given feedback engages and encourages a team member to lean into their role. Does your team hear from you often enough? Do you give them feedback that is timely, specific, and impersonal?

Leadership can be challenging even if you have spent your life preparing for it. But either way, it is not as challenging – and even more rewarding – when you have a partner in growth. If you have any interest in leadership coaching, you can book a free discovery call here to see how I can help you and your team.

That’s all for now,


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