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So what is the secret ingredient that creates outstanding leaders? We've talked a lot in this blog about how there are a multitude of skills and attributes that can create strength in leaders. You can be an extrovert, an extrovert, a visionary, a servant, etc. In addition, situations call for different leadership styles: in times of worker inexperience or crisis a more directive style works best, while in a more stable situation with seasoned workers more delegation and a lighter hand are called for. So instead of exploring the possibilities and the spectrum, today let's go at it from the opposite perspective. Why do some leaders flame out?
In his book People Skills Robert Bolton said that 80% of the reason why leaders fail is lack of people skills. In the world of production it's often the super-worker who is promoted to supervisor. It's common if not typical that their people skills (or the lack thereof) is not a consideration in the decision. And so the new leaders are, in many companies, fending for themselves in the interpersonal department. They learn what they think they need to know by modeling off of someone else (sometimes a scary proposition) or by using trial and error. (Who wants to be tried and erred upon until they get it right?)
If an individual is motivated to learn he can choose to turn his head to see more of the people around him and notice their reactions, positive or negative, to the circumstances around them and the actions the leader takes. But this is slow, and reliant on pre-existing conditioning for the individual to interpret what's going on with the people around him. This method can't be counted upon to get somebody successfully through the transformation to leadership. There are several potential obstacles to becoming the leader with effective people skills:
If you want to see better leadership skills that result in more productivity and greater internal customer loyalty you have several potential actions to take: