Why Strong People Skills are Essential for a Successful Leader

Why Strong People Skills are Essential for a Successful Leader

When you think of people skills, the ability to socialise with others is probably what comes to mind. But the ability to communicate with others isn’t the main ingredient to effective people skills. In fact, many elements contribute to good people skills; having patience with others, showing empathy, strong listening skills and good manners are all traits that a person should have to be an effective leader.

To put it bluntly; good leaders need good people skills. The risks of poor communication from leaders should be avoided at all costs. If you have good people skills, your employees will more likely be able to relate to you, leading to stronger relationships being created and trust being enhanced in the workplace. A recent Harvard Business Review survey found that 58% of people said that they would trust a stranger more than their boss.

Some of the people skills you should have to become an effective leader are:

Respect

We’ll start with probably the most important people skill; respect. Nobody wants to work for someone who doesn’t treat them the right way. As human beings, we should treat others the way we want to be treated and this shouldn’t change in the workplace. Unfortunately, disrespect in the workplace is common; a shocking 98% of employees are subjected to disrespectful behaviour in the workplace. 

Leaders who are respectful to their employees have more confidence in their management style and are more agile in their working making them stronger in times of crisis.

98% of employees are subjected to disrespectful behaviour in the workplace statistic by Oak Engage.

Patience 

Patience is key to good people skills as it can improve productivity within your teams and can enhance trust with your employees. If you’re piling on the workload for your employees and giving them tight deadlines, you’ll increase the risk of burnout within your team.

When it comes to setting tasks and deadlines, remember to take into consideration other work your employees may be doing. Rushing them to get something finished will only hamper productivity.

Empathy

A staggering 92% of employees believe that having an empathetic leader is key to strong employee retention. Empathy is a people skill that is essential to be a successful leader, especially right now. Although a leader is there to guide employees through their role and help them excel, they also want to be led by someone who they feel they can go to when they need help.

92% of employees think that having an empathetic leader is key to strong employee retention.

Communication 

Might sound quite obvious, but leaders with good people skills need to have good levels of communication. Poor communication is costing businesses a high price; on average $62.4 million a year. However, we know that it isn’t just a high price businesses are paying as a result of poor communication; disengaged employees, high employee turnover and low productivity are all risks of poor communication.

To be an effective leader, you need to value the importance of communication between you and your employees. Communication is a people skill needed for various kinds of job roles, but in leadership it is essential. Effective communication builds trust and inspires positive change.

Active listening 

Girl on a video call with a co-worker both looking happy.

Although the ability to communicate and speak to your employees is essential, it’s also important to remember how listening is just as important as speaking. To be an effective leader you must actively listen to your employees and acknowledge their feedback. There is a heavy emphasis on the communication aspect of good people skills but active listening plays just as an important part. 

Employees who know that they are being listened to are more engaged and productive in their roles. Active listening will enable you to become the best leader you can be through constructive feedback.

Why do I need people skills to be an effective leader? 

In most kinds of professions and job roles, you need to have a good level of people skills, but when you become a leader it’s important you reflect on those skills that you’ve learnt previously and develop them so you can become the best version of yourself. Bad people skills can result in poor communication, conflicts growing in the workplace and the potential of losing valuable employees.

If you feel that your people skills are not up to scratch to be an effective leader there are plenty of ways you can work on and develop your skills;

If you need to work on communication

Make sure you know what message you want to convey to your audience. If you aren’t 100% sure about what message you’re sending out, don’t expect your employees to have an idea of what is going on. 

If you need to update your employees on something important happening in the company, ensure you are fully clued up on what is happening before you send out a message. Having a company intranet in place can simplify the communication process and avoid the risk of poor communication. Important updates can be sent out to your workforce immediately through various forms of content.

If you need to be more empathetic

When planning your week make sure you set aside time to talk to your employees; whether this is a 1:1 meeting or just an informal chat. Knowing that your leader has set aside their own personal time to ask how you’re doing is a real confidence boost.

If you need to be a better listener 

To enhance your listening skills ensure you’re always fully in the moment when speaking to an employee. This will avoid any distractions and you should also pay attention to facial expressions and body language to fully gauge how your employee is feeling. 

Remember to always put yourself in their shoes; even if you don’t agree with what is being said. This will help you understand where they are coming from and help you come up with a solution to the problem. 

The workplace has evolved and employees no longer just want to go to work to get the pay cheque at the end of the month; they want to work because they enjoy their job role, they want to socialise with their colleagues and they want to feel part of a company’s culture. If they don’t get any emotion from their leader due to poor people skills, they’ll probably look for somewhere else to work. It’s that simple. 

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