Not everyone is a born “people person.” Individuals in those cases often find a professional niche that’s right for them, but if you’re a CEO, business owner or hold any type of leadership position, you really don’t have that luxury. You may still not be a people person, but to lead at any level in an organization, you have to be able to work with and communicate to the people you lead.
Fortunately, though you may feel yourself lacking in some skills, with a little patience, attitude change and commitment to personal improvement, you can be a better leader with better interpersonal skills. Here are some key areas to develop:
Pay more attention to others. How well do you know the people on your team, both professionally and personally? Are you aware of anyone who’s recently lost a loved one or is struggling through a divorce? Obviously, personal situations affect the quality of one’s professional performance, but if you’re either unaware of those situations or, worse, don’t care, you’ll never inspire others to work harder for you and your business.
A good starting point is simply learning more about your employees’ needs and aspirations. Find out what they need to improve their performance. Ask for their ideas about how to cope with challenges facing the business. These individuals are important to the success of your business, so it’s very important you know what makes them tick.
Don’t act like a distant leader. Some leaders cultivate an air of staying above the fray, of “not getting their hands dirty” with the lives of others. In many cases, this ends up being self-defeating. Their employees, even those who form their executive team, may never feel they can relate to that leader simply as a fellow human being.
Forging an emotional connection with others only happens if people feel they can trust you. Do you consider yourself friendly and approachable? Ask those closest to you (a spouse or friends) whether you come across as genuinely warm and empathetic in your interactions. Their answers might surprise you.
Be humble and admit your mistakes. Leaders aren’t gods—they’re people who make mistakes just like the rest of us. Being able to admit when you’re wrong can be enormously beneficial, in terms of encouraging others to trust you. Doing the opposite can damage all the hard work you put into being a better person and leader.
Help to resolve conflicts. A leader is often uniquely positioned to resolve conflicts between individuals in the workplace. Again, you have to be paying attention to uncover dysfunction within the team. If it’s there, you can’t afford to ignore it. Use your interpersonal skills to bring people together to discuss and resolve their disagreements.
Smile more often. Are you conscious of going around the office frowning or looking stern and disapproving on a regular basis? No one responds well to this. Regardless of what’s happening in your life, as a leader you can only inspire others by being upbeat and showing it with a smile. It’s not always easy, but it comes with the territory.
Everything you say and do as a leader has an impact on others. Strive to make your words and actions relevant to what people need to be good at their jobs. This way, everyone wins.
If you’re ready to ready to grow as a leader and actively inspire the people who work for you, join other CEOs, managers and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life. Learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member today.