Like Water for Leaders

Good leaders and teams in any context are focused on their objectives and satisfaction usually flows from achieving results which meet or beat those targets. That’s even more true, and more difficult, when operating in a tough economic and business context, as many of us are in now.

So there’s a challenge in keeping freshness in effort and motivation for executives and staff alike when markets are zero growth, more competitive than ever and short on bonuses. Words like ‘focus’, ‘actions’, ‘execution’, efficiency’, ‘toughness’ and ‘perseverance’ are all part of the lexicon for times like this. Such directive language plays an important role in crossing the arid lands between oases of success and reward.

When there’s more acute focus on the bottom line, there’s a temptation to cut back on what might seem not to be immediate priorities. For some, this includes time and budget for so-called ‘soft skills’.

But what are ‘soft skills’? The very name sounds nebulous. Usually they include communication skills and behaviours, how to connect with others (and yourself), being comfortable enough to step back and pause to gain broader perspective before acting an communicating appropriately. Emotional intelligence if you like. But it’s not always ’emotional’ – and these skills are highly relevant and pragmatic in influencing and leading – with immediate impact.

In fact, the metaphor for such skills as being ‘soft’ seems entirely wrong. The language and behaviours involved, difficult to define perhaps, are like water – soft in some ways, but also essential, dynamic and equally capable of being hard, powerful and even destructive. Can you remember doing a belly-flop into a swimming pool? What do you think has worn down dramatic cliffs along our coastline?

The skills of communicating, influencing and connecting with other people are the very font of effective management and leadership, of client relationships, of clear objective setting and operational process. The ability to hold confidence and manage state is critical for both authority and personal performance.

It would be an parched environment indeed to work in without these skills, with limited flow of information, no spring of innovation. No wonder people can feel like a fish out of water.

So when those targets are tough to achieve, look to balance the directive vocabulary and also build leadership, better managers, networks, team focus, sales and motivation with smarter language, behaviours and relationships. The effect is immediate as well as providing a wellspring for sustainable growth.

Come on in, the water’s lovely!

Thanks for reading this. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help irrigate your leadership and management skills, do please take a look at ourĀ website.

"language and behaviours are like water - soft in some ways, but also essential, dynamic and equally capable of being hard and powerful "

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