The 'hard' skill of leadership: Sanjay Dugar
Creating an environment of trust and respect should not merely be a stated objective, but must be practiced in spirit as well
In a fast changing business environment, it is but important for corporate leaders to stay in tune with the current economy and industry trends. They must necessarily know the finer nuances of their business and customer insights; have the ability to effectively implement a strategy and above all be able to predict future trends.
A recent study conducted by Institute for Corporate Productivity enumerates building relationships, good communication and creating an environment of trust and respect, as the three top competencies. Building relationships is clearly at the heart of it, for not only does forging a working relationship with employees, customers, and suppliers help in executing a strategy; it also differentiates a good leader from others. Communication skill is more often than not mistaken for being able to speak in public or making business presentations. What it essentially implies is the ability to listen, plan and act in a manner wherein people feel that they have been listened to and that they matter.
Leaders should clearly explain to the shareholders as to why a decision has been taken and how it will positively impact business outcomes.
Over the years, the context of leadership too has undergone a dramatic change. Leaders need to prove their mettle in an environment wherein customer acquisition and retention is getting tougher, margins are being eroded, and employees are overworked and stressed. It is herein that leaders, in order to lead effectively, need to be self-aware, display high empathy, and be active listeners. These soft skills, collectively termed “Emotional Intelligence” are very important for a growing organization. Good communication skills thus, requires one to be a good listener and at the same time be able to articulate with conviction.
Creating an environment of trust and respect should not merely be a stated objective, but must be practiced in spirit as well. Being approachable and friendly is the starting point that helps build trust and respect. Leaders must walk-the-talk and demonstrate trust and respect in each and every interaction with employees, customers, and suppliers.
In essence, soft skills are the real hard skills that are often demanded of a leader and are critical elements to great leadership.