A twenty-year old study of leadership effectiveness conducted by Stanford University’s School of Business concluded that about 15 percent of one’s success in leading organizations comes from technical skills and knowledge, while 85 percent comes from the ability to connect with people and engender trust and mutual understanding.

Through my coaching and leadership training work, as well as in interviews with successful women entrepreneurs and CEOs for my forthcoming book, I noticed that indeed people skills top the list of the attributes of successful leaders. Today’s leaders do not need to know everything there is to know. They want to be surrounded by people who know a whole lot more than they do but who trust them implicitly for a bigger vision and direction. Today’s leader needs superb people skills – rather than outstanding technical prowess – to build an organization based on culture of respect, innovation and accountability.

We need more women who are willing to lead – and that means not so much working hard ourselves but being able to motivate others to get the job done. That is a crucial part of people skills that needs to be learned. Although women often pride themselves in having people skills, a lot of us still have room to grow and improve.

Emotional Intelligence is a big part of the Smart Leadership Training program at ExpatFactor.  Apart from self-awareness and self-management, higher Emotional Intelligence means insight into others and social skills, eg empathy.

The term ‘social skills’ covers a wide variety of skills and competencies, many of which are rooted in self-esteem and personal confidence.  By developing your social skills, being easy to talk to, being a good listener, being sharing and trustworthy you also become more charismatic and attractive to others.  This in turn improves self-esteem and confidence.

The other elements of the Smart Leadership Program are Powerful Dynamic communication, Influencing and Engaging Others, Productivity and Decision-Making, High Energy Relationships, Health and Wellness, Time Management and Balance.

Listening is by far the most important leadership skill. Do you think you know how to listen? Think again. Research shows that 95 percent of people tested failed by 17 to 29 % in their listening proficiency level. That’s because listening is a skill that can be learned and improved.  Whether you aspire to be a leader or not, your interpersonal relations will improve a huge lot from a slight improvement in this skill. So, how about honing your listening ability – and maybe even learning ‘active listening’ – this summer?


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