Why People Skills Trump Everything

A leadership principle that I strongly believe is that “People skills are more important than whatever skill it takes to do your job.” You may be a brilliant lion tamer, bus driver, coach, teacher, salesperson or marketing director. But if you can’t get along with people on your team—and better yet, inspire them—the odds are you’ll never get far enough to find a wide platform to showcase your expertise.

I’ve worked with organizations that have a policy for everything. They have a long list of systems, procedures and guidelines. They have a mission statement in place. The problem is, the leadership team doesn’t like each other very much, and they’re not good at motivating or inspiring their team.

The result? They go nowhere.

On the other hand, I’ve seen organizations with very few guidelines, procedures and even flawed systems. But their leaders respect and energize each other, they like being together and they have strong people skills.

The result? They’re remarkably successful and fulfilled.

No matter how expert or smart you may be, if you can’t inspire people, your future as a leader is bleak.

It’s not either/or, and I’m not recommending you ditch your policies or procedures. But I am telling you that your ability to deal with people will trump all the rules in the world.

Don’t become a “people pleaser,” but do become the type of leader people want to rally behind. Learning how they tick (people skills) will help make that happen.  

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Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California (cookepictures.com)where he helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."