I’ve got a question for you.
If your organization needed to make 15 percent of your workforce redundant, do you think executives would have any qualms about letting you go?
When crunch time comes (and to some companies I know, they are in it already….), When there is a call from the top to downsize, or if they will have to replace you with a cheaper alternative – a computer or an outsourcing company – do you think that they would hesitate for even one moment? These are sobering thoughts but thoughts that are very important nevertheless.
All things being equal, your performance, your skills, your accomplishments are important but perhaps more important than all these is the fact that you have to be likeable.
There are people we admire and then there are people we like. There are people who are good in what they do. People who deliver results. People who possess dynamic and strong personality. People who get what they want when they want it and in ways they want it; we do admire people like these; but the truth is we’d go out on a limb to help those we like not those we admire. This is where interpersonal skills come into the picture. The best scenario of course is to have people we both like and admire but these are usually the exceptions and not the rule.
So how do these people get us to like them? What is it about them that we like?
Two words actually. It’s called interpersonal skills.
A business school came out with a survey saying that people skills is actually many times more important than product knowledge and over the years of my own business experiences, I have found this to be true.
Interpersonal skills is a major component of emotional intelligence. Consider where you work and the various people you come into contact with through work. Who is the best manager in your organization? What is it that they do that makes them a good manager? Are they good because they are smart and clever? Or good because they are charming and supportive, charismatic and enthusiastic? You will be surprised as you sit down and make a careful assessment of these. I would hazard a guess that it is the latter case. We may respect people who are clever, insightful, and sharp. But we like the ones who are positive and socially skilled. And, more often than not, we go out of our way to help people who we respect and like rather than the ones we admire.
Emotional Intelligence in one sentence, is the ability to identify, understand, and manage moods and feelings – in both ourselves and other people.
This involves 3 domains of expertise:
- Self-awareness. The ability to be able to identify moods and feelings in ourselves and understand how these affect other people. Many people are blind to the true impact that they have on others. We like to think of our own strengths and weaknesses in one way – but others often have a very different idea of how they would describe us.
- Self-direction. The ability to alter those emotions and set goals to your advantage. Because often the only difference that distinguishes winners from losers is their mental state. Knowing that you are angry or tired and unhappy isn’t very helpful. But being able to change your mood to one of calm or enthusiasm – now, that’s a worthwhile skill.
- Interpersonal savvy. The ability to identify and manage emotional states in other people. People don’t have to do something just because you tell them to. Even if you are the leader, they can choose to do it more slowly or to put less energy into it if they choose. It is the skill of finding out what makes other people tick so that you can influence and persuade them to do their best and to be at their best.
Make yourselves likeable. Do not try to impress people all the time. Rather than making yourself interesting, why not make yourself interested and the funny thing is that the people you lead finds you becoming more interesting in the process.
Work is work but it is only a tiny component of life. And so in anything you do, whether you are in a position of leadership or not, never forget that it is nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.