Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Soft Zone

Some CEO's and other top executives tend to shy away from conversations about what are called "soft skills." They like to talk about the tangibles of strategy, vision and execution. But, you cannot get away from the critical role that those soft skills play in the success of an organization.

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz reference observations from Gallup by noting that:

No single factor more clearly predicts the productivity of an employee than his relationship with his direct supervisor. More specifically...the key drivers of productivity for employees include whether they feel cared for by a supervisor or someone at work; whether they [have] received recognition or praise during the past seven days; and whether someone at work regularly encourages their development. (Loehr and Schwartz, p. 75)

So, whether you like using the soft skills or not, you need to find a way to work them into your repertoire. If this is an area where you are weak, another wise move would be to have at least one person in your top circle of leaders who is really good at this stuff.

I will admit that early on in my career this was an area where I was severely lacking. Over time, and with consistent effort, I significantly improved in this area. I am still viewed as a fairly serious and probably somewhat aloof person in my leadership style. But, the effect of the growth that I experienced was stronger and stronger teams, especially marked by dedication, loyalty and productivity.

Where can you apply some soft skills today? Who on your team needs to know that you care? How can you invest in your relationship with them?

If you are interested in growing in this area I would encourage you to contact me about a program I offer called, "Conversational Leadership. Download my color brochure and Fact Sheet for more info. One of my former trainees referred to it as "the best real-time training" he'd ever experienced.

Seize the day!

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