Monday, July 27, 2009

Leadership: "Hard Hats" Not Required Here

In our last couple of entries, we have been talking about the relationship between leadership and emotional intelligence. In our last blog we noted this rather shocking statistic:

95% of your long term success at the executive level will not be the result of how smart you are, but rather of how well you manage your own emotions and the emotions of those around you.

I state that this statistic is shocking because, for many of you, your career development has been the direct result of your "technical" talent and skills, or hard skills. The more you know, the more you have succeeded. As you face challenges, you have used your own technical knowledge and skills to overcome these problems. As a result, this idea of your success being tied to managing emotions (your own and those of other people) seems completely foreign to everything you have experienced in your career.

Take a look at the graph below. This graph represents the type of skills required (technical vs. people) to be successful at the various levels of leadership. As you can see, the higher you go up the leadership ladder, the less technical (or hard) skills you require and the more people (or soft) skills you require. This is a lesson that many young leaders (including yours truly) don’t pick up on right away. After some thought it might become more obvious, but when you are constantly rewarded for your performance, the tendency is to do more of the same.
Let’s ponder this concept for a few minutes. Could the VP of your organization do some of the technical things that you or your staff do day in and day out? For that matter, would you want your VP even trying to do some of these tasks?

Probably not.

You want your VP focused on strategic concepts, focusing on the future and preparing your organization for its newest challenges. This type of work is not done in a vacuum, but rather in conjunction with other leaders both inside and outside of the company. For your VP, building relationships and getting along well with others is the key to their success. That doesn’t mean that they have to like everyone that they deal with, but they must learn to deal with disagreements and conflict in a way that builds teamwork and does not damage it. And while they certainly have to understand the technical concepts of the business, they won’t be applying them on a day to day basis.

The metamorphosis from technical expert to expert in human behavior is the critical point in the development of any executive. It starts when you begin to use your knowledge of human behavior to get the most from your team. That means:

  • understanding what your team members do best
  • knowing that everyone is motivated by different things
  • figuring out what motivates those team members
  • communicating beyond the facts to touch each person
  • not trying to teach a pig to sing (i.e. enhancing team members' strengths, not trying to develop their weaknesses)

And the more you progress up the leadership ladder, the bigger the role these elements play in your success.

We will have more on this next week.

Until next time......

ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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