Sharpen Your People Skills in Three Simple Steps


A senior executive is fired after a run-in with the Board of Directors. An ineffective team leader is given a new team to manage — and the team mutinies. An employee is reprimanded after losing her temper with a customer. Three different individuals, three unique situations, one common problem: Getting along with others.

Although technical skills certainly are important, study after study shows the quickest path to leadership success is superior people skills. In fact, one recent study shows that 80 percent of people fail on the job due to poor interpersonal skills, not lack of technical skills.

Sharpening your people skills is simple — it’s just not easy. Follow the steps below to become more proficient:

Be Visible. Circulate on a regular basis and engage people in conversation. This shows them that they are a priority and that you care about them.

Listen. Your success as a leader is directly tied to the willingness of your staff to consistently go above and beyond when needed. Actively listen to everyone. When you don’t listen, you don’t care. They simply won’t go beyond their job description if they think you don’t care.

Appreciate. Be aware of who your top performers are and make sure you recognize their efforts. It is true that recognized performance repeats itself so it is in your best interest to praise exceptional work.

You were promoted to a leadership role because of a demonstrated technical skill. Any future success now depends on your ability to inspire people to greatness. That starts with simply getting along.

Need more help sharpening your people skills? For information about the Association’s regionally recognized professional development courses, please contact Dan Monaghan at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or email