I hate the term 'soft skills'. It somehow implies that the ability to influence and motivate others has less validity than hard skills like beating them up or getting them into a headlock until they accept your point of view.
Regardless, a great manager has to have these 10 tools at their disposal if they want to succeed. They come from experience and may not have been on your radar as actual essential tools, until now...
- Always be inquisitive and ask questions constantly.
Discover business models, facts and figures, weight ratios, GDP, tipping points and what makes things tick. 99% of people will be happy to share their insights and discoveries, the rest may need a little more persuasion but that's ok too. Most people don't ask, they just accept that things are above their pay grade or none of their business. To a great leader there is no such thing and you also know that the knowledge you have just learned will be useful later somewhere down the line.
- Selling ideas as an elevator pitch.
When you run a team of creatives, techies or sales people often the one thing they miss out on is the ability to communicate with clarity. That has to be your job. In 30 seconds you have to be able to summarise and sell the USP (unique selling proposition) of anything. This skill will also allow you to chop any project down to scalable value and profitability. If you can't sell it, why would others buy it? Practice this until it becomes second nature and closing deals will come faster and easier.
- Effective brainstorming.
Share the load. You have a great idea and a potential money making machine but it will need tweaking. Your team can help with this. If you keep it in your head and return occasionally, you will probably see it appear on Amazon produced by someone else. If you are a creative thinker, trust in your ability to generate more great ideas at a later date as and when you will need them. Make sure your team know that no idea is stupid and they won't be judged on suggesting bad solutions. Reward genius when they turn your donkey into a racing thoroughbred.
- Leading from the ranks.
They know you are the boss. They've seen your new car. They also need to know that you believe in making their lives as bountiful as possible too. Your job is to make them better at theirs. It's a win-win. Too many bosses keep their office door closed and hide from their staff. When you do that, you only get a 'tip of the iceberg' knowledge of what's really going on in your company. Always be available and always listen to your team. That way you can diffuse a crisis and prevent a revolution long before it has legs. You can also tweak your corporate culture by sharing what winners do on a daily basis, questioning each employee on their daily tasks and results.
- Emotional Intelligence.
Read the book by Daniel Goleman to better understand which mindset drivers really make us tick and govern our decision making abilities and success. If you are used to making gut decisions, then you are already used to utilising emotional intelligence. The framework and daily practice of effective communication will enhance trust, increase empathy and prevent issues caused by misreading the situation or what was actually happening in times of stress.
- Thinking outside the box.
It's very hard to instill new ways of thinking amongst a team when they've grown up with an education that forces us to repeat things parrot fashion like a mantra, never copy ideas, never share information and always look good in front of the boss if you want a promotion one day. The lead for a new mindset has to come from you. You must break the paradigm with examples of your own radical ideas and also be open to letting your team dispute your validity. It's challenging, can be empowering and is ultimately essential to carve your place in an ever changing industry.
- Putting out fires and resolving arguments.
People fight because they are passionate, not because they don't care. Remember that. Teach them 'win-win' negotiation skills, how to accept the difference in others and also that everyone has value even if they are vastly alien to what you know. Diverse teams are stronger. Constant excitement keeps us excited and engaged at work. Sparks are not a bad thing but need to be managed effectively so that everyone knows that even if they were wrong, they had a right to be heard.
- Public speaking.
Leaders can speak and rally the troops before battle. They can use metaphors and examples to engage their audiences imagination and have a number of communication tricks, stagecraft techniques and dramatic effects to get what they want. We are all used to taking orders from parents, teachers and bosses but the best ones make us feel like the ideas were our own in the first place, they just got highlighted and shared in public. Speakers engage, listen and recalibrate on the fly. That makes it a performance and them into an entertaining speaker.
- Making key judgement calls.
The ability to say 'Next...' on difficult sales, challenging staff, unreasonable clients, unproductive projects and other time wasting entities. Then declaring 'Let's move on...' when it's right to rally the troops into action on the next stages without missing more than a cursory beat.
- Drawing the morale line in the sand.
What are the values and principles of your company which your team MUST adhere to? Over-delivery, transparency, respect, completing the project on time? The leader needs to match the company values to what the team will understand and work with. If not, they will do their own thing and gaps will appear between staff and customers. Projects won't get finished and the finger of blame will get pointed at everyone else. The boss can anticipate this and drive company values which will then dictate the organic growth of the business in terms of recruiting and motivating new staff and creating long term clients and projects.
You just do.
Google local courses, get a coach, persuade a mentor or enroll on a weekend retreat.
The difference between a leader who can do the above and one who can't is success.
It's that simple.
I can help you on all the above...
Let's talk soon...
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