Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Personal attributes trump business acumen. —2

A couple of years ago I posted the following entry. With my readership increasing since then, and my work consistently reminding me of the power behind its message, I’m compelled to share it again. Your comments and experiences are always welcome.
Personal attributes trump business acumen. (Originally posted Nov 8, 2008)

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.


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