Thanks for taking part in our survey – the results are in…

Thanks for taking the time to take part in our recent survey. We asked you the following question:

If you were to start from scratch as a leader or manager, which skills would you master first?

We had a great response.

According to just over two-thirds of you (68%), Relationship Building is the number one skill you would master first and around a fifth of you thought Operational CoachingTM was more important. These two skills together accounted for a huge percentage of the results.

Only 10% thought that Influencing would be your priority focus and Strategic thinking and Executing fell far behind, making up only 5% of the total vote.

Now, isn’t that interesting? When you, as leaders and managers, reflect upon your leadership journey, you recognise that Building Relationships is what really counts, alongside developing Operational CoachingTM skills. What you might not know is that using an Operational CoachingTM approach helps you to develop great Relationship Building skills, so these top two skills combined become all-powerful!

What does this tell us?

  • It’s not your technical expertise that gets you to the top

Being promoted into your first management position typically relates to how competent you have become in your current role rather than how prepared you are for your next role. In the early stages of your career, you rarely get the opportunity to test the ‘softer’ aspects of leadership. This can result in some new leaders and managers arriving in their new roles without having practised some of these essential skills - highlighted by our survey.

  • Learning to be a manager can be a long and arduous journey

Although some people are natural leaders, many of us have to learn how to lead and how to navigate the environment in which we work. Despite traditional management training programmes that briefly expose leaders and managers to some key skills, ‘learning’ often happens on the job through trial and error. Unfortunately, at a leadership level, getting it wrong can have severe consequences.

  • Leadership isn’t what we expect it to be

There are still a lot of outdated ideas of what being a leader means. Despite all the rhetoric around leadership skills development, the command and control paradigm still prevails. In fact, another recent survey showed that three-quarters of organisations still have a "very command and control leadership style". This absence of role models can distort and delay leadership development especially in areas such as strong relationship building and coaching meaning that you may not develop these critical people-centric skills as quickly as you need them.

So, with the benefit of hindsight, what could you do to help new leaders and managers prepare?

And, if relationship building and operational coaching skills are the two most important skills for a leader or manager at the outset of their leadership career, how do you give them those all-important skills?

Being able to build great relationships is important, and as a leader or manager, it’s critical that you’re able to leverage those relationship-building skills for everyone’s benefit.

It's so much more than being well-liked by people; you also need to be able to create an environment of open communication and trust, to engage your team and proactively develop them so that they can excel in their jobs too.

After all, as a leader or manager you’ve got to be able to lead other people through complex and ambiguous situations where the dynamic between people can change dramatically; you’ve got to be able to rely on your team (and them you) in new and challenging situations where swift action must be taken.

Understanding the needs of others, what motivates them and what they’re capable of requires a high level of enquiry and active listening which are the key skills that you develop as an ‘Operational Coach’.

By giving your new leaders and managers Operational CoachingTM skills themselves you’re essentially putting enquiry at the heart of the dialogue that they have with their teams, peers, customers, suppliers and even within their own leadership team. This is equally true for your more experienced leaders and managers as well!

When people feel listened to, enabled and empowered, they'll start contributing more ideas, making better decisions, communicating more effectively, acting with more autonomy, taking on more accountability and engaging with others in a much more beneficial way. 

In short, you can take your relationships to the next level because operational coaching is the secret to ‘real’, sustainable and robust relationship building.

And that’s why we think operational coaching is a critical skill your leadership team needs right now. It enables your leaders and managers to build great relationships alongside a host of other benefits!

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