The other day, I came across a LinkedIn discussion that really got me thinking. The topic: “Can you Overdo People Skills?” So how about it, can you or can’t you?
According to the article, leaders with great people skills often have a strong ability to control and assess their own and others emotions. They also possess the ability to discover talent, are willing to listen to opposing views and are able to forgive others. Furthermore, they take the time to understand team members on a personal level.
So, what could possibly be wrong with having these traits? Actually, nothing. These are great qualities for a leader to have. However, with a leader, as with life, balance is crucial.
As a leader, the ultimate goal is to get results. Use your people skills to help team members mobilize and maximize their own potential. This is a focused and results driven approach. This is a balanced approach.
To further run with this idea, let’s look at the world of sports. (We are coaches after all.) We occasionally hear the media use phrases such as, “he’s a player’s manager” or “she’s a player’s coach.” Well, what does this mean? Among many things, a player’s coach communicates his confidence in his team members and views mistakes as learning opportunities. He sticks with his players and supports them when they are struggling with performance.
These are great qualities to have and I think most people would love to play for a coach like this. Again, the issue is not with the traits, but with balance. These types of coaches are often fired after just two or three years and often because they were a little too friendly and failed to implement a culture of accountability. When this happens, we hear the media say, “The coach lost the locker room.”
Where do these coaches go wrong? Certainly, there is nothing wrong with sticking with a player through his struggles. However, at what point does this become counterproductive? It is a great approach to view mistakes as learning opportunities, but there comes a point when you as a leader have to ask yourself, “Is this person learning? Is he improving?”
Ask yourself, how long is too long to wait? At what point will your patience lead other team members to become frustrated and lose trust and commitment? Is your patience with one individual hindering organizational goals? It is not about one single person, it is about what the collective group is going to achieve together.
Your job is to lead the way and get results. So hold people accountable. Use your people skills to help your team mobilize its own potential. Use your people skills to align personal goals with organizational goals. Use your people skills to communicate what the collective group is going to achieve together.
In 1986, before the season started, New York Mets manager, Davey Johnson, told his team, “We’re not just going to win, we’re going to dominate.” He challenged his team. He inspired them. He used his people skills to help them develop their potential. He held them accountable. They went on to win the World Series.
What will you do?