An estimated 90% of the turns made by UPS delivery trucks are right turns, and that’s intentional, according to the Washington Post. Left turns are seen as inefficient, because they leave trucks sitting in traffic longer. UPS has saved more than 10 million gallons of fuel from this policy. How does this apply to leadership?
I will use left turns as a metaphor for lacking social ableness. More often than not being in a leadership role requires you to manage interdependent networks of relationships with other departments, the board, staff and clients. Interpersonal skills are critical for leaders to help advance their organizations. When a leader fails at those skills, the organization can find itself in a downward spiral of lost customers, high-turnover and a lack of seeing projects and product development come to fruition.
Leaders inspire people to do things they didn’t know they wanted to do.
Leadership boils down to artfully being able to accomplish goals through other people. You inspire people to do things they didn’t know they wanted to do. How can you effectively accomplish this if you lack the skill of social ableness? Fear, intimidation, yelling and bullying are tactics leaders without this skill-set will use. This leaves you with no leader at all.
Technical skills and the competency to do the job are necessary for someone to be an outstanding contributor. In order to be a leader you also need the skills of:
- Listening to understand
- Communicating clearly so the receiver can understand
- Persuasion to inspire your followers to buy into your vision
- Collaboration for optimal knowledge share
The word synergy has been placed in the “never use again” business language category however, in leadership it is necessary. The competencies of a leader need to work well together at all times. The more competencies a leader synergistically demonstrates the higher their results will be.
All leaders at every level need the skill of social ableness. If you can’t inspire and motivate, build relationships and communicate, your other skills are as ineffective as Superman around cryptonite. They paralyze the rest of your organization.
Avoid left turns when hiring or promoting someone to a leadership role by truly understanding their social ableness. If you have found that someone was hired or promoted without this necessary skill, don’t sit in traffic longer, fire them quickly and save your organizations fuel.
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