People Skills Book about Leadership
Many leaders are promoted because they have great technical ability, but they have had little training in leading people. As people climb the corporate ladder, they do less direct work themselves, and are expected to get more done through others. Yet many have never had people skills training or read a people skills book. How do you get great results working with people?
Consider also that you likely have some challenging people to work with. Some know it all and don’t need your direction. Others have their heads down, don’t say much, and it’s hard to know what they think. Still others are very agreeable to your directives, but are they really bought in to what you’re saying, or are they not but don’t want to make waves?
The Leadership Through People Skills book by Dr. Robert Lefton & Dr. Vic Buzzotta teaches a practical approach to determine the type of behavior you are dealing with, and how to tailor a win-win strategy to get results for you, your colleagues, and your organization. Among the skills you will learn:
- How to size up the type of behavior you are dealing with. The Dimensional Model of Behavior that Lefton & Buzzotta have come up with deals in observable behavior, not personality. This makes it much more practical to use in the workplace.
- How to spin up receptivity so the other person actively engages with you. A common problem is that the other person is not receptive, so your words go in one ear and out the other. You’ll learn how to gauge receptivity and spin it up if it is low.
- When and how to best present your views in a way that gets them heard and considered.
- How to effectively handle differences in views.
- How to handle different types of behavior differently. You’ll learn what should be handled similarly with everyone, and when should your approach be tailored to different types of behavior.
Thousands of leaders have benefited from the behavioral science principals taught in our Leadership Through People Skills book and workshop, and reported significant success in applying them. Here is a link to a review.
Below you’ll find the table of contents, the first chapter, and info in case you’d like to order our people skills book.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Leadership, People Skills, and You
Chapter 2 How You Manage Now
Chapter 3 Leadership Styles with Direct Reports
Chapter 4 Leadership Styles with Peers and Bosses
Chapter 5 The Behavior Mix
Chapter 6 What Difference Does it Make?
Chapter 7 Motivation
Chapter 8 Creating Receptivity to Your Ideas
Chapter 9 Probing
Chapter 10 Presentation Skills
Chapter 11 A Format for Q4 Interaction
Chapter 12 Coaching and Developing Direct Reports
Chapter 13 Q4 Strategies for Direct Reports
Chapter 14 Q4 Strategies for Peers and Bosses
Chapter 15 Teams and Teamwork
Chapter 16 Self Development
CHAPTER 1: Leadership, People Skills, and You
Rather than think of this as a book merely to be read, think of it as a resource to be used in your role as a leader where you work. We hope you will start putting into practice the proven concepts we offer.
Simply stated, this book is intended to help you become a more productive leader through the use of people skills. To do that, let’s first define our terms.
A productive leader sees to it that people do their jobs with the skills and commitment needed to produce the best obtainable results at the lowest feasible outlay of money, time, and resources.
People skills is an umbrella term for four related sets of abilities:
- Sizing-up skills. Productive leadership requires the ability to a) observe what people do in work situations as objectively as you can, and b) figure out why they do it, so that you can make sense out of what you see. This, in turn, helps you interact effectively with other people by selecting the appropriate action from a whole range of actions you might take.
- Communication skills. Sizing up is only the beginning. Once you’ve diagnosed your own and other people’s behavior, you must devise a communication strategy for finding out what others think and for getting your own ideas across. This ability to exchange ideas is essential to productive problem-solving and decision-making, and both are necessary for productive leadership.
- Motivational skills. It takes more than communication to get people to work productively. It takes motivation — the creation of an environment in which people do what they’re capable of because they have a compelling reason to do so.Before they’ll put themselves into their work, people want the answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” It will take your motivational skills to provide the incentive that makes it worthwhile for them to tap into their reserves of ability and energy.
- Adaptive skills. Productive leaders relate to people as unique individuals. They don’t deal with everyone in the same way. They vary their communication and motivation techniques to meet the variety of people’s needs. Therefore, the most effective leaders are creative. They shape their actions to fit the individuals for whom they’re intended.
So, along with the necessary technical skills (engineering, marketing, manufacturing, etc.) and administrative skills (planning, organizing, controlling, etc.), these are the people skills essential to productive leadership.
Understand that most leaders have already learned some fundamental people skills. We call this using our common sense. If leaders weren’t using common sense skills, they wouldn’t be able to carry out their assignments. We are not concerned with creating all new skills from scratch, but with building on these existing ones.
However, developing bettereople skills takes both understanding and the willingness to practice them. This book is designed both to enhance your understanding of how people skills work and provide the opportunity to practice them with judgment and insight. You’ll be able to use people skills in the right situations, at the right times, and in the right ways.
One reason people skills are so important is that they help you work more productively with others at any level in your organization. With people skills, you can become a 360-degree leader.
Leadership, after all, isn’t always from the top down. The people you must work with to get things done aren’t always direct reports. They can also be the people for whom you work and your peers. To function productively, you must be able to take effective action at all levels. People skills can help. Let’s see how.
1. Leading your direct reports
With people skills, you can do a better job of developing, coaching, and motivating your direct reports. You can overcome many of the problems inherent in any top-down relationship — problems that arise whenever power is unevenly distributed.
Perhaps most important, people skills can help you do a better job managing all kinds of employees. You probably have to deal with people who run the gamut from pushy to timid, from systematic to sloppy, from cocky to insecure. Your job, of course, is to help each of them produce optimal results. You need a wide range of people skills that will work with any behavior in any circumstance.
2. Collaborating with your peers
With people skills, you can better coordinate your efforts with those of your fellow workers. Here again, what counts is versatility — the ability to work with all types of people, from the co-worker who is easy-going and cooperative to someone who is fiercely competitive and contentious.
Like your direct reports, your peers differ in their attitudes, ambitions, and work habits. To work productively with all your peers, you need people skills.
3. Working with your boss
Finally, people skills will help you do a better job of meshing your efforts with those of your boss. Whether he is a dogmatist who knows all the answers, a loner who keeps people at arm’s length, a “nice guy” who refuses to take charge, or some other variety of boss, you’ll find it easier to deal with him if you use people skills. Like everyone else, bosses can be managed if you know how.
The Importance of People Skills
The importance of people skills becomes crystal clear when you consider two facts:
- According to estimates, typical managers spend 70 to 80 percent of their working time in one-to-one interactions. This time is expended among direct reports, peers, or bosses. Although teamwork is growing in importance, only one-fourth of their time is spent working in groups of more than two or by themselves.
- Our own extensive research and data from other sources reveal that many of the managers passed over for promotions are rejected primarily because they cannot handle people. It’s their style — how they do something, rather than what they do.
These managers often have excellent technical and administrative skills. However, they lack the ability to size up, communicate, motivate, and adapt. Thus, the lack of people skills accounts for much of the disappointment and frustration that many would-be leaders experience in their careers.
What’s in It for You?
In light of this information, we can specify several reasons why you will profit from reading this book.
- Achievement of objectives. Most important, people skills should help you attain your business objectives — the goals your organization expects you to reach. People skills make it easier to do what you’re paid to do.
- Tangible returns. If a lack of people skills is disqualifying other leaders from promotions, then mastery of these skills could help you get ahead in your organization, or at least help you reap tangible rewards. We’re not suggesting that people skills are all it takes to get ahead. We’re saying that better people skills, when added to solid technical and administrative abilities, frequently make the difference between standing still and moving forward.
3. Personal satisfaction. Whether or not you’re strongly interested in tangible rewards, people skills can provide a large measure of personal gratification. For example:
- The ability to work productively with a variety of people in many situations will make you more confident and secure in your present job and less vulnerable to unforeseen and unpredictable events.
- Improved people skills will make your working relationships smoother and more satisfying.
- Improved people skills can increase your influence in the organization and lead to more important leadership roles.
- Personal productivity. Finally, improved people skills make it easier to do your job. Disputes, frustrations, misunderstandings, confusion — you can lessen all of these by using the skills described in this book.
Concepts That Are Tested and Proven
Because we are making some impressive-sounding claims, you may be skeptical. What evidence proves that people skills can do the things we say?
We know that people skills work because we have seen them produce better results for literally thousands of managers and leaders in hundreds of companies. You see, we are with Psychological Associates, a training organization that has developed and conducted training programs to help leaders master people skills to improve productivity since the 1960s.
The concepts and people skills incorporated in our leadership programs are based on the work of a broad spectrum of highly respected psychologists, communication specialists, management experts, and behavioral scientists. They collectively spent many years researching and applying these tested common-sense principles. In fact, by the time we began, a large body of research and empirical evidence had proved that the skills described in this book actually work.
Our development program with people skills has found wide acceptance among organizations of many kinds, not only in the United States, but also in a number of other countries in the Americas, Western Europe, Africa, and the Pacific Rim. They all wanted to improve productivity.
Every one of the thousands of leadership seminars our organization has conducted teaches the ideas and skills in this book. When put to the test back on the job, this training has been responsible for tangible business results. The organizations for which these leaders work have been the crucible in which the people skills proved themselves.
Thus, the evidence that the concepts in this book actually work comes from both the scientific community and our own experience in teaching and seeing them put to use in the real world of work.
A Common Objection
Even with this kind of endorsement, some managers understandably still have doubts about the usefulness of applying people skills in their own particular work situations. They believe the way people are treated is determined by their organization, not by the individual leader. Therefore, it’s pointless to learn people skills when the organization discourages or inhibits their use. This is a fairly common concern.
Here is why we believe this misgiving is worth re-examining:
- Point 1. Although many organizations are specific about the results they want, they are often not nearly as specific about the methods leaders can use to get these results. Obviously, they want their people to behave in a manner that is ethical, legal, and consistent with their corporate image. However, results are their number-one concern. They want to increase productivity.
- Point 2. If people skills can help a leader get better results, why not give them a try? You might find them to be a fully acceptable means of reaching the goal of increased productivity.
- Point 3. In most organizations, leaders have considerable leeway in handling people. In most interactions, they are not restricted to acting in only one way with the people around them. If people skills can help you achieve the goals for which you are responsible, it’s hard to imagine your organization would find fault with that!
- Point 4. Why would any organization object to the use of people skills when they contribute to better results?
It’s Up to You
Ultimately, then, whether you try to improve your people skills is up to you. In most of your own one-to-one interactions, you are free to size up the other person’s behavior, to communicate and motivate in a scientifically sound way, and to adapt your behavior to the other person’s needs. You probably have more freedom to practice people skills in the way you want than to do almost anything else.
Moreover, as you read further, you’ll probably find the people skills we recommend that you try will meet your own test of common sense. Whether you exercise this tested common sense is up to you.
A Final Question
This brings us to a final and very important question: Can people skills be learned?
The question sometimes takes this form: Aren’t people skills something that some people just naturally have and others lack? Although people vary widely in their “genetic temperament,” no person is born with more people skills than another. Instead, plenty of people have learned and mastered them in the same way they master other skills — by learning the principles on which they’re based, by practicing the skills diligently, and by getting sound feedback to make them work even better.
As this book will demonstrate, there’s nothing mysterious about people skills. As we said, they are just plain common sense that have been tested for validity. These skills shouldn’t be confused with such vague, elusive qualities as “charm,” “personality,” or “charisma.” People skills are techniques. They are ways of doing things. As such, they can be learned.
If this book has an optimistic premise, it’s this: Even though learning new skills is never easy, leaders are not locked into their present mode of behavior. People can learn to size up behavior, to communicate, and to motivate, and thereby to work more effectively with others as unique individuals.
A Look Ahead
With this introduction, we’re ready to get more specific. In the next chapter, we’ll look at ways you can evaluate your present leadership behavior. That will lay a foundation for determining how you can become an even more productive leader.