This is the fifth of seven posts on AchieveGlobal's international study of leadership today, "Developing the 21st-Century Leader." Be sure to read the complete report.
A couple of years back, the Harvard Business Review ran an article about how difficult it can be for new managers to develop the interpersonal skills to lead effectively.
But that challenge doesn't apply only to new managers. Consider some daily realities for any manager, new or experienced: dealing with an array of personalities and work styles, communicating clearly and effectively, inspiring and motivating teams, and doing all this with a sense of fairness.
Our recent international study identified six zones of leadership - Reflection, Society, Diversity, Ingenuity, People, and Business - that address key 21st-century challenges. The People zone paints a vivid picture of how effective leaders connect with others to boost morale and guide action toward shared goals.
To succeed in the People zone, leaders must read shifting emotions in others and respond in productive ways. These leaders recognize and accommodate an employee's occasional bad day, for example, or serious work-life imbalance. On a grander scale, effective leaders routinely monitor their teams and adapt their words and actions, showing empathy as needed, to focus or redirect the prevailing mood.
It's easy to see why leaders strong in the People zone earn the trust of others, so critical to individual and collective effort.
Middle managers in our study tended to see skill and effort in the People zone as especially critical, perhaps because these leaders occupy the structural center of the organization. Here is where relationships up, down, and sideways can make or break both daily operations and special initiatives. But with mutual trust the key component of successful leadership, concerted effort in the People zone becomes a priority for every leader, regardless of formal role.
Craig Perrin is Director of Solution Development at AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida