Breaching the leadership skills gap: AchieveGlobal defines how interpersonal skills support organizational success
TAMPA, Fla., July 15, 2004 -- Leadership in an era of difficult decisions and rapidly changing marketplace conditions demands more than technical competence and enterprise-specific knowledge, a premise reinforced by senior and mid-level management research performed by AchieveGlobal, international provider of training and consulting services.
"Our experience indicates that the most effective senior leaders possess solid interpersonal skills that help them meet their organization's goals -- something which is only accomplished by producing results through others," says Sharon Daniels, AchieveGlobal president and CEO. "Today's successful leaders must be equipped with the people skills that will result in optimal efficiency, productivity and profitability. We've always known this, but it's more critical now than ever before."
Daniels notes that the stakes are extremely high in terms of the magnitude of business issues identified by research participants. Following are the top five global business challenges they named:
* Surviving in a changing economy and marketplace
* Operating at more profitable levels
* Daily delivery of customer service
* Meeting the demands of owners and stakeholders
* Maintaining quality control
When asked which were the most critical skill sets required to meet these issues, respondents named the following, four of which can be described as interpersonal skills:
* Communication skills
* Strategic skills
* Problem solving skills
* Technical skills (the only exception)
* Decision-making skills
"The previous generation of executive thought leadership placed greater emphasis on technical and strategic qualities, but that viewpoint is shifting," says Daniels. "Leader communication has emerged as a critical factor in increasing worker performance. It offers great potential to aid organizations in building a committed and more productive workforce to achieve competitive advantage."
In a recent article, high levels of employee loyalty were linked to an estimated 11 percent boost in productivity. On the other hand, commitment issues accounted for more than 34 percent of employee turnover -- an outcome that can cost organizations an estimated 100 to 150 percent of the departing worker's annual salary. Loyal workers enhance an organization's reputation in the marketplace, a factor that improves the ability to recruit top-notch employees. Consider the comments of a manufacturing HR manager: "The more we communicated, the more engaged our employees became, and the higher the productivity became, and believe it or not, the better our financials became."
Managers believed strategic skills were important not only in the visionary sense, but also in a practical, tactical context. Senior leaders must set the organization's vision and mission, conveying these to managers in a way that guides development of departmental or divisional strategies to support organization-wide objectives.
Respondents believed that an effective problem solver can sift through vast amounts of information to identify the base issue, break it down into its components and then produce executable solutions. They noted this skill is more team-oriented, while decision-making is a more individual skill.
Good decision makers are willing and able to make decisions based on limited information, and possess the confidence to assume an unpopular stance for the greater good of the organization. According to a municipal government administrative manager: "The real skill is knowing when you have enough information to make a decision because the chance of you having 100 percent is nil."
"People achieve results," concludes Daniels. "To accomplish their objectives, leaders must act on a combination of interpersonal skills that will develop and maintain employee buy-in to goals and incessantly improve morale and productivity to stay ahead of the competition."
Based in Tampa, Fla., AchieveGlobal (http://www.achieveglobal.com) provides research-based learning solutions that aid clients in developing leaders and acquiring, growing and retaining profitable customer relationships. Working with AchieveGlobal's trainers and consultants, clients can translate business strategies into business results by improving the performance of their people in the areas of leadership development, customer retention and sales effectiveness.
Web Site: http://www.achieveglobal.com
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