Vital for Business Leaders to have Strong People Skills – Setting up and running a successful business is not always easy. As any entrepreneur or CEO knows, there are some essential things which must be in place to make this a success. While marketing is crucial, another important thing to factor in is having the right leadership team to steer the company forward.
Whether it is leaders at senior levels or those managing teams on a day-to-day basis, the people you have in these positions can make or break your organization. This makes it key to choose the right people to become leaders, so they can inspire staff and help the company thrive. Two things all good leaders have are great people skills and an air of approachability.
But why are these things so vital in the best managers?
To create an inclusive workplace culture and make everyone feel at home, leaders need to be approachable and have great people skills. If you are looking at moving into a leadership role and feel you need extra help with this, the great news is that help is available. The online courses at St Bonaventure University are a case in point, with their Master of Arts in Leadership teaching you all you need to know in this area.
But why is creating an inclusive workplace culture so essential? The simple facts are that running any organization successfully means instilling an inclusive culture. This will ensure staff feel valued, at home and respected. In turn, this encourages them to be more productive, more engaged and more likely to stay with the company for the long term. However, leaders can only set up this kind of culture if they have the people skills to do so and an air of approachability that puts staff at ease.
Strong people skills and being approachable are also vital leadership qualities in the process of building and maintaining relationships between staff and leaders. Whether it is at the very top level of management or a little further down the ladder, the relationship between managers and their staff is crucial to a company’s success.
But how does this work in practice? To begin with, managers with both these traits will make staff feel comfortable enough to ask for clarification regarding projects and day-to-day tasks. If a complex issue crops up or staff need help with a difficult customer, they must feel confident in being able to approach their boss for assistance. In addition, leaders must have the people skills to deal with employees in a respectful, understanding way when they reach out for help.
It is not solely work-related situations where people skills come in handy for leaders though. Help with pastoral care is a major part of management, and people in these roles have a duty of care to their employees. It is therefore crucial that bosses show compassion and a real sense of emotional intelligence when their staff need help with personal problems. As you can imagine, being approachable is also key here because people will not feel they can come to leaders with issues otherwise.
Top-end people skills and approachability also come in handy for leaders when it comes to team performance and morale. In simple terms, being able to deal with employees in a caring, down-to-earth and appropriate way keeps them happy. It also builds a feeling of respect and admiration towards the leader in question from their staff. All this helps to boost employee productivity and team morale. As a result, leaders who have the skills to handle people effectively usually see staff achieving better results and drive economic growth.
By the same token, being approachable helps staff to see the person behind the leader and connect to them on a more personal level. This once more helps to drive up employee productivity because people will usually put in more effort for those they feel a connection with. This not only means staff produce more but that the leader also performs better and is more effective in their role.
This is perhaps the last major way excellent people skills and good approachability are key for leaders. Very often when managing teams of people, issues can arise between members of a team. This could be a disagreement over work or a clash of personalities.
Whatever the issue, an approachable leader is one that the people involved will feel comfortable enough to reach out to. In addition, a leader with strong people skills will have the tact, sensitivity and diplomacy to sort the situation out to everyone’s satisfaction. A leader without these traits though may simply make matters worse or be someone neither party feels comfortable in speaking to.
Now that we have looked at why strong people skills and approachability are so important for business leaders, it is worth looking at what specific traits a leader needs to shine in these areas.
In terms of people skills, good listening is certainly something which is required. Being able to actively listen to what staff are telling you enables you to fully understand any issue and gives you time to think before taking action to resolve it. It also makes employees feel valued and shows you care about what they say.
Empathy and compassion are also core people skills to brush up on for leaders. Both these are especially useful when dealing with personal problems an employee may have or issues between colleagues. By showing compassion and empathy, people will see you care about them and are committed to looking after their well-being. Respect is also key, and business leaders should treat their employees respectfully at all times.
One characteristic which can help in terms of dealing with people is being firm when needed without being intimidating or scary. This helps leaders to retain their sense of authority without coming across as a tyrant or dictator.
In order to be approachable, the first thing is to be around as much as possible so people can catch you if they need to. It is also worth keeping an open-door policy as much as possible, so people feel you are always available for help when needed. When staff do come to you for guidance, remember to make them feel welcome and at home – even if you happen to be busy or in a bad mood! If you show negativity to employees, they will soon start to find you unapproachable and stay away.
Another great tip for being more approachable as a leader is to give employees 100% of your attention when they come to you for assistance. If you appear distracted or uninterested, this could make it seem like you do not want people to approach you.
It is also worth using humor and positive energy to your advantage when dealing with people. Of course, there may be times when this is not appropriate, but it is worth conducting yourself in an energetic, positive manner at work as a general rule. If you blend this with flashes of humor and being easy to talk to in front of staff at the right time, it should help you appear more approachable to them.
We have looked at why it is important for leaders to have these qualities and what specific traits underpin them, but what happens if managers do not develop these skills?
A manager with non-existent approachability and zero people skills is certain to fail. In turn, the business they work for will suffer overall because the team they manage will not perform at their best. But how can this develop?
To begin with, leaders without either of these qualities will soon find staff lose respect for them and simply don’t put 100% effort into their work each day. They may also find staff start to treat them as a joke and laugh at them or talk about them behind their back.
In terms of work, service could suffer as staff with complex problems might not feel comfortable in seeking help from a poor leader. This can cause queries to be unresolved or for the wrong decision to be made to sort them out. It could also result in staff who badly need pastoral help not getting it because they cannot approach their boss for guidance. Increased staff turnover is also a significant issue.
There really is no doubt that strong people skills and being approachable are essential qualities in the best business leaders. Without these in place, managers will not be able to operate effectively – and the staff they manage will not perform at their best.
In the long term, this will be bad for the company they work for and cause profit levels to drop. Although not all leaders are born with top-level skills like this, it is actually possible to learn them with the right education and qualifications. Once leaders have mastered these skills, they are all set to shine.