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Nine ways to develop your people skills

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The book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie should be required reading for any person hoping to occupy a leadership position. Having great ideas or excellent qualifications does not make one a leader. However, the ability to marry those ideas and qualifications with the skill to motivate and win support from the people you work with makes good leadership possible.{{more}}

Carnegie’s principles are so simple that it’s sometimes difficult to believe that such simplicity can have a profound impact on people and a leader’s ability to achieve organizational objectives. Young leaders taking the helm must reshape the way leaders operate. The impact of the authoritarian style that is deeply rooted in a heritage of slavery still dominates the workplace. Some workplace leaders think that the best way to lead is with fear and belittling tactics, as that was the behaviour modelled to them. Sadly, years of such behaviour have even conditioned some workers to hold that as a standard of good leadership and new thinking leaders may get dismissed as being “soft” and “ineffective.”

This destructive mould must be broken. Employees are the most valuable asset in an organization, and the leader who is most able to affect the attitude of employees and motivate them to perform at their best will be most successful. The recent organizational restructuring in a few major companies in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the introduction of global companies as competitors should serve as a wake-up call to all businesses. In order to stay competitive, companies are being forced to restructure, downsize the staff, cut costs, and inevitably employees will be asked to do more with less. That cannot be achieved if leaders are not in touch with the simple principles of how to get the most from employees in a positive way.

Carnegie’s recommendations, though simple, have been proven for over 50 years since the book was written and are still being utilized today. People skills take time to develop; begin now with nine of Carnegie’s principles and start to develop your people skills even before you become a leader.

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

5. Let the other person save face.

6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9. Make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.”
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