|Current Adelaide time:||Contact me: +61 410 642 052|
Fresh News: The hard work of soft skills
The hard work of soft skills
At a claim office of about 125 employees, the head of Human Resources spent the day observing the local manager.
Not only had the office ranked high on productivity, but this particular manager had received fantastic feedback on her company's Leadership Measurement survey. So the HR executive was curious to watch her interact with employees to figure out what generated this great response.
As they walked through the office, conversing about the normal work conditions, the manager would often stop and refer to specific individuals: "Steve over there has been in our area for 15 years. Steve also coaches Little League. They won their game last Thursday."
Then they'd move on to someone else, and as they left that person's area, quietly the manager would say, "Sally had some problems with her daughter this year. You know how difficult teenagers can be. We've had many sessions behind closed doors where Sally's trying to sort through these problems."
Months later, when I interviewed the HR executive, that day at the claim office was still etched in her mind. "It became apparent to me," she explained, "that this manager knew all of her people. And I don't mean just knew their jobs. She knew each individual - their backgrounds and hobbies, what their concerns were, what got them excited. She knew when they were upbeat because things were going well, and she knew when they were struggling and needed her time and attention. I asked her how on earth she could do this for 125 people. Her response: 'That's my job.'"
Great leaders understand that you can't pay people to excel. You can only pay them to show up. But once you've got them there, the leader's job is to encourage people to excel by creating an atmosphere of caring, trust and inclusion. Sun Tzu, author of the Chinese "The Art of War" put it this way: "Regard your soldiers as your own children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Treat them as your own beloved sons, and they will be with you even unto death."
As an expert on the "human side" of organizational change, I have been a guest on hundreds of radio call-in programs over the past several years, but I especially remember one in the Northwest, when an unusual number of disgruntled employees were phoning in with corporate "horror stories."
People complained about being unappreciated and overlooked. They spoke of callous treatment from uncaring bosses, and reported that they worked for organizations "just interested in making a buck." For the entire hour, calls followed the same line. Finally, in genuine disgust, the interviewer said to me: "The principles you're giving us sound so simple, why aren't more managers following them?"
I didn't have to think twice about my reply: "With all the diet books on the market, why aren't we all thin and trim? What could be simpler than reducing calories and increasing exercise?"
The answer to my question and his is the same. Things that are simple are not necessarily easy.
My work has enabled me to deal with business leaders around the world, and not once have I encountered a boss who despised all his or her employees. On the contrary, the leaders I've met were genuinely concerned about the well-being of people who reported to them. (Even the occasional leader whose only focus was on the bottom line understood that the best way to increase profits was to build the commitment of talented employees.)
When you think of the qualities that leaders need to encourage in their employees -- responsibility, creativity, caring, commitment -- you can see why coercion or manipulation just doesn't work. The leaders who influence us the most are those who understand that engagement and productivity are not about rules, regulations, and rewards -- or the struggle to keep people "in line."
In general, it's the soft skills of leadership that are paramount. Leaders (and their organizations) won't succeed without a genuine caring about people and the ability to develop and nurture interpersonal relationships.
This is something that the MBA industry is grappling with today. Many business schools are revisiting their offerings to see if they still have relevance in the 21st century. Consider Harvard Business School, the blue-chip brand of all MBA programs, which used 2008 (its centennial year) to convene worldwide experts on business education and plot its directions for the next 100 years.
The results: Deans and recruiters said that MBAs in general needed better communication skills, increased self-awareness and an enhanced capacity for introspection and empathy. HBS is now looking at several change proposals, among them a program to develop various soft skills in its students.
Isn't that simple?
Not easy, mind you, But simple.
Carol Kinsey Goman Ph.D. is a leadership communications coach and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. She offers informative, interactive, entertaining and custom-tailored programs.
• Expert contributor for The Washington Post's "On Leadership" column.
• Leadership blogger on Forbes.com
• Author of "The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work (Bk Business)" and "The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help--or Hurt--How You Lead."
To contact Carol about speaking or coaching, call +1 510 526 1727 or email CGoman@CKG.com. For more information or to view videos, visit Carol’s websites: www.SilentLanguageOfLeaders.com and www.CKG.com.
You can also follow Carol on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CGoman, on FORBES http://blogs.forbes.com/people/carolgoman/, or “Like” her Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-Kinsey-Goman-PhD/105398069543578
Reports I have written:
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing
As a subscriber you get kept up-to-date on when new articles are added.
Subscribe now! and receive a free version of my $79 report, Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business.
It's the first in a series of reports I'm writing on how to master the various key elements of social media.
Each report is an-depth, step-by-step process that explains in clear, plain English how to master a particular social media tool and help your business communicate better for better business results.
Each report is easy to read, easy to implement and easy on the pocket -- just $79 per copy.
But as a new subscriber to my blog and newsletter, I'm giving you a copy of the free version of Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business report as a way of saying "thank you" for joining my community.
Please subscribe, then check for the email you will receive from me shortly after, because in the email will be details of how to download the report [1.2mb pdf]
If you would like to use any of the articles on this site that I have personally written (they will either have 'By Lee Hopkins' on them, or nothing at all) please feel free to do so as long as you include the following 'resource box' text and a link back to www.LeeHopkins.com:
Finally, if this site or any of the articles have been of any help to you, perhaps you'd like to say 'thank you' by throwing a few pennies my way. If so, please click on the button below and donate whatever you feel is appropriate. The payment is handled by PayPal and is extremely secure. Thanks.
Subscribe to my weekly business communication newsletter and receive a FREE version of my highly-regarded report, 'Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business' (that sells for $79)
Find out more...
Related material :
A 12-step plan to take you from Twitter newbie to Twitter supremo and grow your business in the process.
Better Business Writing
You’ve probably always wanted to improve your writing skills in your workplace, but perhaps there wasn't a training course around to help you.
Well, now there is.
Turn Guesstimates into Estimates & close more sales!
Award-winning ProposalKit gives your clients the detailed price quote and proposal they need so YOU close more sales (and boost your bottom line!) Finally you can quote with accuracy, increasing your profitability and professionalism. ProposalKit is easy, customizable, proven, and downloadable now! http://www.proposalkit.com
Social Media White Paper
Trevor Cook and I wrote a booklet to help our clients and friends come to grips with this new online phenomenon called 'Social Media' or 'Web2.0'. Now in its third edition, it is still being widely cited and is receiving lots of favourable comments.
Find out more about it (opens new window)
Vodburner is my tool of choice for recording skype video calls, either for later podcasting or simply for my own record. Now that video is becoming more and more important, I can't imagine online life without it.
More about Vodburner...
What you say about Lee Hopkins:
"One of the best days I've spent with a man! "
"As a speaker, Lee and his alter ego in the guise of avatar 'Lee Laperriere' played a key role in making our virtual event in Second Life a success. Lee was well-researched, engaging and enthusiastic about the possibilities that virtual collaboration brings and his presentation showed that he had really thought about the needs of our audience"
"Wow - what a presentation, it went so well, thank you very much! Fantastic job! "
"Lindy and Lee, you were both brilliant and I'm very thankful and pleased for your efforts, it was excellent. Thank you. "
"One of Australia's leading public relations practitioners in the so-called new media"
"While I only had the pleasure of actually meeting Lee face-to-face several months ago, I have been aware of him in conference programs and through feedback from one of my team members for a while. Lee has an amazing and unique skill for managing the new media to support business outcomes"
"Oz's best social network strategist"
"As for Local Royalty, you really are a Superstar among the bloggers and blogosphere!"
"Lee Hopkins, one of Australia's most respected social media experts"
"Lee was very entertaining and knowledgeable. He demystified social media for me and he made me feel it IS possible."
"His enthusiasm is infectious - exciting stuff!"
"Excellent. A really fascinating insight from an engaging speaker."
"A very difficult topic but it was explained in a fantastically simple way."
"The Walkleys relies on the good will of Australia’s talented communicators to make events like these happen and I can’t thank you enough for taking time out from your heavy schedule to make the convention such a memorable event."
"The workshop was very useful in that it enabled us to directly relate what we learnt in the seminar to our business. Lee was very easy to relate to and he presented all the information in a way that was simple to understand."
"Informative and engaging - gave good overview of new on-line technologies and how they can be applied to businesses. Particularly valued the opportunity to have a separate session to look at the specific needs and potential uses for my own business."
"Great to talk to someone who is expert in their field and passionate."
"The ability to interact one on one with Lee, as well as seeing new technologies and how they can be easily implemented into current business processes [was great]"
"Great. Lee was very engaging and presented info in easy to understand language and examples. Use of music, video, PowerPoint etc keep contents fun and educational. Great stuff!"
“Great! Even I could understand and appreciate the content. Excellent examples, wonderful presentation. I’m going back to share with my team. Thank you. "
“Lee was a great facilitator and his energy and passion for social media was evident."
“Excellent, enthusiastic presenter who is right into what he is talking about. Walking the talk. Just the right amount of info about the different topics. Not too geeky. Strong emphasis on how the tools can assist effective business communication. Relaxed friendly atmosphere. The workshop opened lots of doors, stimulating. I’m strongly encouraged to try things out. Many thanks.”
“Lee was great – knowledgeable, enthusiastic, generous in sharing his expertise. I liked the demonstrations."
"Great Workshop... helped me crystalise my thoughts on social media and now I feel ready to develop the strategy and make use of this great new medium"
Would you like me to run a workshop in-house for YOUR company?
Contact me to discuss how we can bring your company into this new and exciting communication universe.
View many of the presentations I have given over at Slideshare
Why does employee communication matter?
Download a presentation I gave to a group of PR students on slideshare
For your consideration:
Writing for a web audience