The Third Side of Leadership Is People Skills

This week, as I continue with the Seven Sides of Leadership as explained in Pat Williams’ book Leadership Excellence the third side of leadership, is People Skills.

Excellent leaders have a heart for people. They care about people. They have empathy and compassion for the ones they lead. To be a great leader you have to love people — especially your people.

If you care about your people as human beings, if they know you really care, they will work hard for you. In fact, they’ll run through walls for you. If you want to achieve your vision, you have to love your people.

The ancient Greeks coined the phrase agape love, which means a deliberate commitment to love even when the object of that love is neither lovely nor lovable. That means you’ve got to agape love your people even when they mess up, break rules, and break your heart. You have to stick with your decision to love your people even when your emotions are rolling with anger, hurt, and disappointment.

It doesn’t mean you don’t sometimes have to sever a connection. You have to maintain discipline and enforce the rules. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to be firm and tough in administering consequences for bad actions.But when you choose to love your people, even when you have to terminate someone, you can still love that person and seek the best for him or her.

When asked, “How do you spot leadership talent in your organization?” Starbucks founder Howard Schultz replied,

“People skills. In order to be a leader at Starbucks, you’ve got to have people skills. Some people think we’re in the coffee business, but that’s not true. We’re in the people business – that’s what Starbucks is all about.”

There’s a huge difference between a leader and a boss, and the biggest difference is people skills.

Bosses intimidate; leaders motivate. Bosses give orders; leaders offer guidance. Bosses seek power; leaders seek to empower others. Bosses throw their weight around; leaders delegate responsibility. Bosses are good at faultfinding; leaders catch people in the act of doing good.

Are you a boss or a leader?