Thursday, October 28, 2010

Strong People Skills and Personal Strengths - Not Just for Managers

Everybody knows that managers need to do more than manage. They also need to lead effectively. That means they need people skills and personal strengths.

We also know that most managers have a lot of room to grow in that department. So it's a good idea to invest time and resources to help them grow stronger for leadership.

What's not so well understood is that managers aren't the only people at work who lead. The stereotyped view of the workplace is that the person in charge leads, and everyone else follows.

But that's nonsense. In the real world, the workplace isn't like that at all.

Often an employee who has a special area of expertise will be expected to take the lead on a project that emphasizes that skill set. For example, if George has better computer skills than the manager, when using computers is the main activity, George will be the one to direct others.

And some people are so talented, mature and motivated that they need practically no supervision. They lead themselves. And sometimes to get things done, they lead others.

This can sometimes be true of all the employees. A manager simply can't be everywhere at once. So in her absence, people may have to step up and do the kinds of things that the manager is expected to do. They may actually coach each other, support each other, take the initiative, solve problems, make decisions, and tell each other what to do.

Some people, even though they aren't in charge, have acquired experience in leadership. In sports, in the family, in church, at school, in organizations such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. These abilities often reveal themselves in special situations at work. We think of these people as "emerging leaders." After a while, management - if they're on their game - will notice this and single these people out for supervisory roles.

So it's smart to give everyone in the workplace a chance to grow as a person, to help them develop stronger people skills, to give them opportunities to exercise personal strength. These are the areas of competence that make them more effective in personal relationships, as well as work relationships. And everyone knows that when things are going well at home, things go better at work.

So the so-called "leadership skills" are actually the kinds of skills that you want everyone on a high-performing team to have. Yes, the manager has the official leadership role, but in the best case everyone will play a leadership role sooner or later. Ideally, a smart organization will do things to develop these abilities in everyone.

In our company, everyone uses ProStar Coach for professional self-development, not just the people in charge - even the person who answers the phone. Even the tech support guy. We want him to get stronger - better people skills and personal strengths - for life and work. We know good things will happen because we do that. He'll do more to lead himself, and he'll grow in the job as he does that. Which means the people in charge will have to do less leading.

This may sound like high-sounding rhetoric, but it's not. It may seem a little idealistic or outside the box, but even in a small business, this is what should happen, what can happen, and what management should try to make happen.

People skills and personal strengths are not just for managers.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Sarcastic Bastard said...

It sounds like your company would be a great place to work. Why am I not surprised?

Have a great weekend, Denny! Love to you and Kathleen.