As a Conflict & Communication Consultant, I am often asked my opinion on the most important skills that a manager needs, in order to inspire and lead effectively. Since each individual company and team will have its own flavor and style, you might think it nearly impossible to come up with skills that hold across industries, across teams, and across cultures. But in my experience, there are three skills that any manager would need, no matter which company, location, or industry she is in. These skills are what leaders require in order to be truly effective and drive innovation, collaboration, and productivity.
1. Listening Skills – The most important skill that a manager needs is the ability to listen to her team. A manager who cannot listen will miss opportunities for growth and won’t be available to hear warnings of any upcoming dangers or disasters. While many managers are focused on “getting the job done,” the long-term effect of this narrow vision is that the company will face higher turnover, more employee dissatisfaction, and lower productivity and profitability.
2. Perspective Shifting – The second skill that a successful leader needs is the ability to see situations from different perspectives. Shifting the lens and the ability to see a problem or situation from alternative viewpoints is an essential element of successful leadership. Combined with top-notch listening skills, this means that the manager will be able to tap into employee perspectives on a challenge, driving innovation and creative solutions.
3. Creative Inquiry – This skill is the most dynamic and expressive skill on the list. Creative inquiry involves open-questions and “what if” exploration, to better understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what are the options for the future. Creative inquiry is where leaders really shine in their ability to drive the team forward and set a tone of collaborative strength. It involves setting aside one’s own ideas, in favor of exploring those of the employees or teams “in the trenches” and then deciding on the best plan of action, based on the collective ideas and input.
Since many managers and leaders are promoted to their positions, they often lack the emotional intelligence and healthy communication skills that will help them shine in their new roles. These three skills are at the core of strong leadership, and applying them will ensure a leader’s long-term success. Leaders who apply these skills regularly lead teams with powerful employee engagement, dedicated staff, and overall resilience when facing challenges.
For more information on how to hone these Communication Skills, you can contact the Harmony Strategies Group