They’re Not The Soft Skills; They are The Essential Skills

Time and again, I hear leaders in organization refer to listening, ethics, patience, humor and understanding (among many others) as the “soft skills”. They are referencing them in comparison to data driven quantifiable skills such as creating a spread sheet, analyzing productions schedules, and tracking sales projections. While their intent may not be to demean human relations skills, the net result is usually that people see these people skills as less important than the quantitative  skills. Nothing could be further from the truth. The feedback from the CEO was that one of his team leaders was a great technical leader but that he approached everything in his work with “pointy elbows” and a desire to always get his way. When I Read More

Do Really Want to Hear My Comments?

I was invited out to lunch the other day by a friend who wanted to talk to me about his career. After ordering my usual luncheon salad I listened intensely to his description of concerns about his business. After about 20 minutes he seemed to have finished up and just as I was ready to give him some feedback, I stopped myself and asked him…”now exactly what is it that I can do to be helpful to you?” Of course, as a psychologist people are always asking me for advice or ideas about their work or professional matters and for many years I freely gave them my opinion, whether they wanted it or not. Recently however, I’ve become much more Read More

The Essential Skills

“Oh , I don’t worry about those. They’re just soft skills” “Grrrr”, I went under my breath, as another person talked to me about using soft skills. Just in case you can’t tell, they’re talking about people skills the same way that Tea Party activist talk about the Affordable Care Act. With contempt. The implication is that hard skills like budgeting, financial planning, and other mathematically related activities are more important than is our ability to interact with one another effectively. But the research does not bear that out In one study of 358 randomly selected Johnson and Johnson managers, the best performing ones possessed significantly higher levels of self-awareness, self-management capability, social skills, and organizational savvy. Another study conducted Read More

Are You a Trustworthy Leader?

In conducting some workplace interviews recently several members of this organization told me that they did not trust their managers or theleadership of the organization. Their concerns focused on their bosses: Lack of transparency Shifting priorities that could never be nailed down. Lack of commitment to the overall mission of the organization. Not helping them develop as professionals The result for these staff members were that they did not feel very engaged or committed to the company and were planning their strategy of how to get out. A recent survey by Interaction Associates reported on trust in organizations and showed that High Performing Organizations (HPOs) which had high scores in trust and leadership outperformed Low Performing Organizations (LPOs) in everything Read More

The Small Steps of Leadership

Sixty of the finest community leaders in Pittsburgh met last week for the first time and began building friendships that will span the year and last a lifetime. The occasion was the annual Leadership Pittsburgh (LP) kick-off event at the Duquesne Club in downtown Pittsburgh. Leadership Pittsburgh is a leadership development program whose goal is to work with the finest professionals in our region to help them become tomorrow’s community leaders; those people who will help shape the future of this region. Participants come from large and small national and local corporations, state and local government, education, health care and a variety of non-profits. Together they will delve into various aspects of our community from commerce to education, healthcare to Read More

The Story of My Life

I’m taking some time this week to reflect back on the first half of the year and doing some planning for the second half of the year in terms of family, business and pleasure. Its been a pretty good first half of the year although I worked ridiculously hard the first 5 months hardly taking a day off and having scheduled no vacation time for my self. I told several people to slap me if I try to do the same thing next year! Fortunately, I’ve got a couple of vacations scheduled for the summer and I’m even sitting out on the deck today doing this and some other writings. Part of my reflection is thinking about my life story. Read More

Get Involved

Maybe it’s not surprising to you that only a third of employees are engaged in what they are doing. They love their jobs and for many of them, they will approach it with a missionary zeal. For another 25%, work sucks, their job sucks and your organization sucks…I guess they are not engaged. And then there is the great 50% in the middle, all of whom are more or less engaged in what they are doing. Engagement is important not only in the quality and efficiency of the work being produced but even more importantly in how your team approaches customers. And as you know as a customer of the products you buy, if the person you are not interacting Read More

Creating A Mindset Of Longevity

Richard discusses the reality that family owned businesses typically are the ones that last the longest. Family challenges include:  succession, sibling rivalry, not wanting to air their dirty laundry and maintaining values. Factors include sensitivity to the environment, maintaining cohesiveness across the business, maintaining a core set of values and being conservative with their money.

Using Our Knowledge To Promote The People In An Organization

Richard talks about how companies often have business recovery/resiliency plans but many organizations have not addressed resilience in regards to their staff members.