Today, I’d like to continue discussing Pat Williams’ book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, covering the third side of leadership:
People Skills. “Excellent leaders… have empathy and compassion for the ones they lead…. To be a great leader, you have to love people…. Clearly, leaders can’t do it all. They can’t achieve their leadership vision alone. Leaders work through people to accomplish their goals. That’s why leaders need people skills.” –Pat Williams
Yes, we are in the accounting, audit and tax business, but really… we are in the people business. Relationship building- whether as a trusted advisor to our clients or as a member of an engagement or niche team within our firm, it is the core of what we do. Thus, the key to being successful in our profession is possessing people skills. Williams describes them in this way: “People skills are simply the learnable skills that enable you, the leader, to understand the people you lead, to empathize with them, and to build harmonious relationships with them. People skills are the social skills that enable you to get along with people, to negotiate with people, to avoid and resolve conflict with people, and to interact with people in a way that is mutually beneficial.”
Great leaders enjoy spending time with their people, lifting morale, encouraging spirits, and empowering minds. President Bill Clinton would single out people in a crowd and speak to them at a very personal level. George Washington would never leave his troops, even though he longed to be home. Hal Moore was the first one on the battlefield, and the last one off, demonstrating loyalty to his troops. Jesus never abandoned his followers, despite the proverbial stones some may have thrown at him. Here’s a list of Williams’ recommendations on how to sharpen your people skills:
- Be visible and available. Here’s an important acronym to remember: MBWA – “manage by walking around.” Take the time to speak with your staff every day.
- Be a good listener. Everyone has a need to be heard. The most uplifting leader of all is a leader who listens.
- Empower your people. Give the them the encouragement and tools they need to succeed.
- Delegate. Accomplish goals through other people. Organize efforts of others in order to achieve what no one person could ever achieve alone.
- Take care of your troops. A leader must be loyal to those he or she leads.
- Don’t avoid conflict – manage it. Great leaders don’t fear conflict. They face it and resolve it.
- Level with your people. Be honest and open with your team.
I encourage you to take the time to practice your people skills every day, both personally and professionally. The effort has exponential reach, resulting in the teams in your life to reach greater heights.