Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Personal attributes trump business acumen

Many times over the years—when facilitating management or leadership workshops—I’ve asked participants to engage in an exercise where I ask them to reflect on a current or past direct manager whom they see or remember as an awesome manager and/or leader, who motivated them to work at their best. Once they have the person in mind, I ask them to list any strengths, attributes or qualities that they remember this individual possessing. Here are some of the attributes that I repeatedly see listed: high integrity, positive attitude, trustworthy, great listener, strong presence, ability to engage others, motivating, shares a clear vision, empowering, praises work well done, flexible, sets clear expectations, gives credit where credit is due, admits mistakes, honest, makes people accountable, a great mentor.

In my experience, without fail, up to 98% of the qualities mentioned in these exercises have nothing to do with the individual’s business acumen or technical skills. This reminds us of how important our communication and people skills are to our, and to our team’s, ability to be successful.



  Jean Hogan wrote @

I could not agree more with the message here. The great managers I have had over the years are great leaders who invest and develop their team members. It was not about the “business” or “industry” knowledge that impressed me, it was the ability to understand what it was about your employee that drives them and doing your best to support them and coach them to success.

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Thanks for your comment Jean. Glad you could relate. When we think about our own experiences with great managers, it’s pretty simple (although not always easy) to model those behaviors that we know create an environment where people want to give their best.

  Dan McCarthy wrote @

I agree. Managers and companies never fail because of a lack of technical capability. It’s always a lack of leadership.

  Dan McCarthy wrote @

Donna –
oh, and you’ve been tagged:

  India travel wrote @

Your blog is very nice.

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