Seven Leadership Skills Most Managers Lack

An op-ed on Forbes.com, published May 26, 2016 had received 43,371 VIEWS by the time I found it on August 11. It was titled Seven Leadership Skills Most Managers Lack which obviously caught my attention. I see myself as a leader and a manager so I figured I should check into this to see which of my skills were missing or needed shoring up.

Leadership Skills As Per The Article

The article, by Liz Ryan, CEO and founder of Human Workplace, opens by commenting on the paradigm shift in leadership that has happened over the last couple of decades. She spoke about truth and openness and the ineffectiveness of old management tools like the carrot and the stick approach. Telling us employees, or team members, no longer respond to rewards and punishments, she says,

They want a piece of whatever win their department or their organization is shooting for."

She goes on to tell us that most people in leadership or management positions are lacking in critical skills and names,

  • not knowing how to talk to employees,
  • not knowing how to listen,
  • not knowing how to probe for understanding, and
  • not knowing how to create team cohesion.

Good points, and it sounds like four of the seven skills most managers lack to me. But not so. Ms. Ryan is just getting warmed up.

The Actual Seven

The article, which is information-packed, and a good read I might add, goes on to list (and comment upon) what she sees as the actual seven skills most managers lack. Without her commentary (you should read the original article) here is her list of seven:

  1. Perspective-Taking
  2. Allowing
  3. Intellectual Curiosity
  4. Critical Thinking
  5. Connecting The Dots
  6. Humility
  7. Coaching Skills

Ms. Ryan's thoughts on these seven skills are quite good and too the point. She even included an interesting annecdote involving Customer Support Team Leader Marcy, one of her employees, Rachel, and Bruce, the HR Manager. It illustrates her connecting the dots point well. And there's a great list of coaching questions managers should be using as well.

And while I don't disagree with her list (though it's actually eleven, not seven!) I do disagree with Ms. Ryan's main premise, namely that these are seven skills most managers lack. I would suggest that most managers actually have all, or most, of these skills. The issue is not that they don't have them; it is that they haven't learned, or don't choose, to use them.

That's the bit that's needing fixed.

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