“The problem with (CEO)Leo Apotheker wasn’t lack of vision as much as a lack of execution and communication.” HP Executive Chairman Ray Lane on the firing of HP’s CEO who had been on the job for only 11 months.
You could change the name of the CEO and the company and the statement could apply to many a C-suite executive who has been fired. In fact, leaders are often hired for their knowledge, discipline and performance. Shortly thereafter, they’re often fired for their lack of social intelligence. In the past decade, CEO tenure has shortened from 8.1 years to 6.6 years, according the Business Insider. Psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in the HBR, why interpersonal skills or soft skills are the top skill of a leader:
Why does social intelligence emerge as the make-or-break leadership skill set? For one, leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people. … technical skills and self-mastery alone allow you to be an outstanding individual contributor. But to lead, you need an additional interpersonal skills: you’ve got to listen, communicate, persuade, collaborate.
Leading effectively is, in other words, less about mastering situations—or even mastering social skill sets—than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.
You can’t fake this. It takes self-awareness, honest feedback and an ability and desire to change behavior. We all need this. Jack Welch, one of the best businessmen of the twentieth century says one way he inspired workers at G.E. was to walk around, ask questions and listen to their ideas. Another way to inspire is to actively help employees develop their careers. In fact, for Millenials, this is the number one reason why they will stay or leave a company.
After all, we’re all human. After a certain amount of money, it’s all about our internal motivators and whether we’re bringing our best to the job. Skilled and good leaders know that and how to tap into our motivation.