Interviews 101:  From Both Sides

Having attended quite a few seminars on leadership and managing people, I have noticed that typically, those seminars are high level views on managing people in general.  Rarely do they get into fine detail.  Unfortunately, and most likely since there are so many seminars from that high level view, the details are what most professionals actually need.  We’ve got the basics, we understand the principals and we have the tools to at least somewhat effectively lead a team.  Today, I am going to dig into the interview process, from the side of the interviewer and then from the side of the interviewee.  Few seminars stretch out to the details of the interview process but hiring the right people is such an important aspect of business that it shouldn’t be ignored.  Likewise, if you are bidding for a position and are trying to understand how to best conduct yourself during the interview, this is something you may also want to read.  Here we go…

As the person conducting the interview:

  • Old school methods of aggressive, rapid-fire questions, picking out contradictions and making people explain them, and asking someone for an on-the-spot sales pitch of the pen you’re holding are no longer viable.
  • Make the interviewee feel comfortable.  The aim is to get them comfortable enough with the conversation that they let down their guard at least a little bit to reveal who they really are.  People are inherently guarded during an interview.
  • Although there may be specific questions related to the job that you need answers to, do your best to make the tone conversational.
  • Ask follow up questions related to the interviewee’s response.  Nothing kills a conversational atmosphere than jumping from one topic to another.  Even if the conversational tone has been achieved, leaping to an unrelated question snaps the person being interviewed right back into interview mode, which brings them back to a guarded mental position.  
  • Openly reveal something personal about yourself.  Talk about your kids or a vacation you’ve taken.  This simple act of opening up your personal, non business-related life, will make it more likely that the person you’re interviewing will also open up.  You are trying to get to know the person, not the employee.  Knowing the person will give you more insight into how they will perform as an employee than standard job related topics.
  • Be honest about the job.  Studies have shown that retention rates of employees are higher when the specifics of the job are made clear.  Don’t be negative about the job, but if there is an aspect of it that you know is generally tough for people, share that information.  Be prepared for the fact that no matter what difficult aspects of the job you share, people, during the interview will say that it’s no problem.  They will then go home and really make the choice if what you shared is something they can handle.  No harm, no foul.  I have never had someone stop the interview and say, “In light of that information, I would like to leave.”  I have had people not accept the position, having made that decision afterwards.
  • Make sure you start on time and that you are not interrupted.  This shows that you value the person’s time and what you are doing is important to you.  It also shows that you will respect your employees’ time.  Don’t respond to texts or calls during the interview.  Keep your attention on the interviewee.  
  • Give yourself options but make the hiring decision quickly.  Interview multiple people for the position, but the longer you take to make a decision, the less likely you will successfully hire the person you decide upon.  You are looking for good people, but so is everyone else.  Good people are hard to find, so it’s likely that the person you want to bring onto the team is also someone that someone else wants to bring onto their team.

As the person being interviewed:

  • Be open and honest about yourself.  Don’t empty everything out of the closet, though.  Your aim is to present an honest snapshot of what your positive traits are.
  • Wear a shirt and tie.  It doesn’t matter what position you are applying for.  It is always, ALWAYS better to be over dressed than under dressed.
  • Don’t make the interviewer draw answers out of you.  Answer the question and elaborate.  Don’t ramble on and on, but be thorough in your answers.
  • If you are asked to give an example or if you are asked to talk about a time when…make sure you talk about a specific time.  The interviewer is looking for specifics, not generalizations.  Anyone can say something like, “Anytime I have multiple tasks to accomplish, I was able to complete them all.”  The interviewer wants to know what tasks they were, how you prioritized them, and why you prioritized them in the way that you did.  They want to know what the outcome was.  Choose a time you were successful.  Remember, this is an honest view of the things you do well.  Don’t choose examples to showcase how you failed, even if it was a good learning experience.  A good interviewer will ask for an example of past mistakes and what you did to fix them.  That is the time to bring up less than perfect scenarios.
  • Think about your weaknesses before the interview.  Everyone can easily spout off several strengths.  Weaknesses are tough to think up on the spot.  But the interviewer may ask what yours are.  This is a struggle for most people.  Clearly, you don’t want to go into an interview and talk about things you’re not good at, but the interviewer wants to know.  Thinking about this beforehand will afford you the time to think about something you can talk about as a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength.  ie: Sometimes I care too much, or I sometimes think about work when I’m not at work, etc.  (Don’t use those, they’re just generic examples!)
  • Be confident in your abilities.  Confidence in yourself will create confidence in you in your potential employer.  Confidence will get you the job, get you a higher rate of pay, and separate you from more than half of the people competing for that same job.  Don’t underestimate it.
  • Always think in terms of what you can offer the potential employer.  Think in terms of them, not yourself.  Why do they need you?  How can you add value to what they are trying to accomplish?  I liken this to asking about benefits during an interview.  Don’t do it.  Asking about benefits during an interview is not putting the employer’s needs first.  The time to ask about benefits is after the job offer, but before you officially accept the position.
  • Have some thoughtful questions prepared for when the interviewer asks if you have any questions.  A simple, “How’s business?” works.  Ask questions that genuinely matter to you, but also helps you identify what you can offer the potential employer.
  • Do a little research about the company to which you are applying beforehand.  Know when the business started, where it started, who their customers are, etc.

Following these basic bullet points will increase your success rate no matter what side of the table you are sitting on.  As a retail professional, speaker and blogger, I can certainly tell you that some of this information was born of trial and error.  Much of it may seem obvious on the surface, but in practice it is worth more than you may initially think.

The Mathmatical Formula Of Leadership

(L+20HP)-ES=EL

Let’s explore:

Managing people is one part labor, and twenty parts human psychology.  Don’t devalue that one part of labor though.  It gives the manager credibility as more than just a figurehead sitting in an ivory tower.  That one part labor is what allows the team to respect and appreciate the manager.  It allows them to see that the manager is in it with them, that she is part of the team, not just a person who barks orders, but doesn’t perform a functional role at a more basic level.  It is a difficult line to toe, and balancing that mix is not for everyone.  

Good leaders understand human psychology, they understand the roots of motivation, and they understand that not everyone can be treated the same.  Something that motivates one employee may not motivate another.  Don’t misunderstand, however.  In policy enforcement or rules of employment, in legalities of state and federal issuance, all employees must be treated equally, with the same baseline.  If one employee is late to work on multiple occasions, it would be improper to allow this trend with one employee, but not tolerate it for another.  Inconsistencies of this sort are unacceptable and could open an opportunity for a legal problem.  In respect to that, all employees must be treated equally and fairly.  When it comes to feedback, motivation, and communication, however, every employee must be treated as a unique individual.  This can be difficult for even the most seasoned managers.

The only way to effectively accomplish the task of understanding the scope of your employees’ emotional driving force is to slow down and take the time to talk with them.  This is the easy part.  The more difficult step is to follow up at a later time and revisit them.  Remember the conversation you had with them and ask them about those things they had discussed with you before.  Genuinely care.  As managers of staff, it is easy to get caught up in tasks, driving towards a sales goal, or deadlines, etc.  We lose sight of the human aspect.  We forget that people will be more receptive and take more ownership when they feel that their boss cares about them on a personal level.  

The pitfall many managers must avoid is to believe that a title inherently demands respect.  While this may be true on the surface, human nature dictates that respect must be earned to be given.  And while, as someone’s boss, I am certainly within my rights to tell someone to do something and expect it to be done, the truly great leaders are those that the employees want to do things for.  These leaders have successfully engaged their employees on a personal level, and simply have to ask that something get done.  The leaders who successfully engage their employees, have taken the time to put in the actual physical labor on the front lines with their employees, and have invested the time and energy to understand human nature in general, are the leaders who always hear, “You’re the best boss I’ve ever had.”

I should also make it clear that a good boss is not someone who rolls over, but is someone that expects high standards and is able to communicate those standards in a clear and concise way.  A good leader does not swing back and forth emotionally.  She does not show anger when something that was suppose to get done doesn’t get done.  She doesn’t exhibit stress when she’s against a deadline.  Her demeanor is controlled.  Too often, managers react emotionally to situations as a quick knee jerk.  It is possible to have hard conversations with employees in a respectful and professional way.  When managers exhibit swings of negative emotions, it undermines their authority and demotivates their employees.  Address performance issues, but address them positively.

(L+20HP)-ES=EL

Where L=Labor, HP=Human Psychology, ES=Emotional Swing, and EL= Effective Leadership

10 Characteristics Of Effective Leaders

Commitment  – Talk about the “why”.  People are more committed when they understand the reasons behind the thing they are being asked to do.  Our employees need to understand how their actions will fit into the bigger picture.  Understanding this creates a sense of their personal ability to impact the company they are working for.  Getting commitment rests on our ability as supervisors to explain why the task is important.  Simply telling someone to do something is dismissive and undermines a person’s ability to feel as though their contribution matters.

Integrity – Honesty and strong moral principals.  Integrity keeps people off of their phone when they should be working.  It keeps them from walking by a piece of trash on the floor.  Integrity keeps earbuds out of our employees’ ears when they know it’s against the rules.  As leaders, we demonstrate what is acceptable to our people.  We are the example of integrity and we should always hold ourselves to the same expectations we hold our people to.  No matter what we say, they will model their behavior after our actions, not our words.

Resilience(open to change) – Despite whether the change is procedural or substantive, leaders need to be willing to accept change.  This can be difficult when something has been done a certain way for a long time.  Going into a change with an open mind and embracing that change makes it easier for our subordinates to reciprocate the resilience they see in us.  Change happens.  We can waste time and energy trying to deny it, but ultimately, the change will need to occur.  Employees will sense when their manager is against a change and this will make the change more difficult to enact.  When we fight against change, we are making it harder for ourselves when we will ultimately have to accept it.

Ownership – Handle it.  When something needs to be done, be the person that takes care of it.  When something goes wrong or if you made a wrong decision, own it.  Admitting mistakes is not a weakness, it’s how we learn and grow.  If there is a gap and you notice that something needs to be done to fill that gap, take charge of it and be the one to fill it.  When we ask people to come up with their own action plan to complete a task, this often empowers them to take ownership.  We don’t always have to tell people what needs to be done, but rather ask people what they think needs to be done.  They usually get it right and then the idea was theirs not yours.  That creates in them a sense of ownership, knowing that they themselves had input.

Communication – Share knowledge.  Every chance we get.  Share knowledge.  Failure to share knowledge results in lost time and inefficiencies.  Effective communication promotes trust and teamwork.  It allows us to help our own managers see aspects of things they may not have considered and it allows the people we lead to be more aware and involved in the business.  This creates a positive and effective work environment.

Inspire Others – How do we get people to do work?  How can we create an environment of teamwork and pride?  As leaders we must inspire people.  Some tasks can be mundane, but as leaders we can do some simple things to inspire people to greatness.  To inspire people, we can show genuine appreciation for their work.  We can be good listeners.  We can be open to their suggestions and actively persue feedback.  We can be partners in tasks rather than always direct or delegate the tasks.  We can simply have a positive attitude.  People will do much better work when they are inspired and it is our responsibility to create that feeling of inspiration, that desire in people to want to do their best.

Empowerment – Empowering someone is trusting them to do the right thing for our customers.  Aside from building trust, it gives them pride in what they do.  Allowing our employees to make a decision streamlines the need for management involvement and saves time.  Leaders often have a hard time relinquishing control.  Leaders who can do this are able to utilize their time more effectively and the people that work for them are also more effective.  It saves us time, but it also saves our customers’ time since they don’t have to wait for supervisory approval to get something taken care of.

Delegation – Sometimes there is simply too work much for one person to do.  We have to ask for help.  Delegation is not a power trip, it is a means of seeing the big picture and compartmentalizing tasks and assigning those tasks to other people to accomplish an overall goal.  Both Supervisors and those being led can perceive delegation negatively.  On one hand, the Supervisor may feel that they can – or should – do it alone, on the other hand employees may feel that their Supervisor is giving them tasks because the Supervisor just doesn’t want to do them.  Either of these things could be true.  Strong leaders look at delegation positively.  It is a way to accomplish a great amount of work in less time.

Sense of Urgency – Don’t wait.  If a task can be done immediately, do it.  Getting things done quickly allows time for errors to be corrected and mitigates obstacles when things don’t go as planned or if other tasks come up unexpectedly.  Additionally, having a sense of urgency creates the perception that the task is being taken seriously.  Be swift in handling issues and tasks as soon as possible.

Accountablity – As supervisors, we must hold our team accountable.  Accountablity is stability.  Standards must be upheld.  Treat all of your direct reports fairly and equally.  Keep emotional responses to a situation on a short leash and take action swiftly and decisively.  You will find that when the expectations are clear, accountablity is fair, and standards are high, people will respectfully accept accountability when performance falls short.

The Universal Law of Workplace Productivity

There is a rule of psychology that pertains to human nature and work output.  When we look at our teams, we always ask ourselves if the work we are getting out of our employees is being maximized.  We are always striving to improve our work output, or at the very least, the quality of work output.  Do we have the right people in place?  Could we increase productivity with our current staff, or should we upgrade the weak links?  

Certainly there are exceptions to the universal law, but in general, this is how it goes:

The square of the total amount of people do 50% of the work.  The remainder do the other 50%.  

This law is simply stated here, but let’s explore what that means, exactly.  Suppose you are a small business.  You employ nine people.  This means that half of the work output is performed by three people.  These are the MVPs, your work horses.  Additionally, this also means that the remaining work is shared by six people.  Unbalanced?  Absolutely, but the law of work psychology deems the scenario as typical.  

Of course, the entrepreneur in us considers replacing the lower-performing six with three MVPs, effectively managing wages by decreasing the amount of employed personnel.  Unfortunately, more often than not, the balance becomes upset, and you are left with the same superstars of productivity, or one, two, or all three of your superstars are replaced and their previous productivity diminishes, leaving you with the same three to six ratio.  But don’t lose heart!  In many cases, when upgrading to more productive ‘bottom halfers’ work productivity does increase overall, however the ratio stays the same.  With a staff of nine people, you will always have three at 50% and six at the other 50%.  

A Simple Trick to Manage People to Success

One can’t change their personality, but one can certainly change how people perceive their personality.  Let me explain…Dom was a manager with very high standards.  He always worked on improving weaknesses.  He would look at sales sheets for multiple departments and ferret out where a department was lacking and how it could improve.  Sounds textbook, right?  And it was.  Dom’s only problem was in his interaction with his department managers.  In Dom’s pursuance of excellence, it was his job to look for negatives, weak links, inconsistencies in processes and efficiencies.  In that, he excelled.  Unfortunately, when his department managers were interviewed, they often described Dom as nit-picky, always negative, and unhappy.  In looking at sales numbers one day, seven out of eight departments were crushing their year-over-year numbers.  It wasn’t even close.  It was like a landslide of improvements and results.  When the numbers were reported, however, Dom’s very first thought was of that eighth department, the department that was not meeting the comp numbers.  And rightfully so.  After all, he was commissioned to drive results, and he would not tolerate one department holding back the business.  He needed to find out why that department had failed to meet the expected sales increase and he needed to change whatever it was that was holding it back.  Kudos for Dom.  That’s the right decision.

He immediately went to the department manager and together, they dug into the category details of the department, looked at staffing issues, productivity, scheduling, customer engagement, product availability, the whole nine.  This is where Dom’s strategy began to derail.  This was the first bad decision he made, and we will pause the scenario for a moment.  

Dom’s first order of business after recieving those numbers should have been something else.  Dom should have called a meeting of his department managers to share the results and to celebrate the success of the business with them.  He should have asked the successful department managers what the major contributing factor was to their department’s success.  He should have told everyone that he was proud of their hard work and to keep pushing themselves and their teams, so that their excellence could continue.  In this meeting, he should not have addressed the one department that had not made sales comp.  Alienating the one manager that produced sub par results would have only served to demotivate that person.  Trust me, after the results were shared, that department manager knew he had some work to do.  He knew that he was the only one of his peers that didn’t produce.  Additionally, getting feedback from successful departments on what their driving factors of success were, could benefit not only the one struggling department, but perhaps their feedback could be helpful to the other successful departments as well.  Maybe they could  could apply some of that information to elevate their effectiveness to an even higher level.

Later on, maybe a day or two later, Dom should visit with the eighth department manager and dig into the numbers.  Dom should make it clear that he wants to help that manager achieve successful results and that he is a partner in that.  

I understand that this is a reversal in behavior to what is inherent in business today.  It has always been critical to find the weaknesses and improve them into strengths.  I’m absolutely not saying that the strategy should change.  It is tried and true.  I am saying that if we, as managers, reverse our public reaction, not our business strategy, the perception of our leadership will improve.  People will feel appreciated and take more pride in their results.  If you do it this way, it makes success more likely to repeat.  It will create a healthy work environment and produce commitment over compliance.  It is always easier when you don’t have to force people to succeed.  We can make them want to succeed, and this simple behavioral reversal will do just that.

The Dead Horse Theory

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to the next, says that when you discover that you’re riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.  

In modern business, we often use “dismounting” as a last resort, but then try other methods that simply won’t resurrect the dead horse.  If the horse is deemed dead, the following solutions won’t fix the problem:

1.  Buying a stronger whip.

2.  Changing riders.

3.  Threatening the horse with termination.

4.  Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5.  Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses

6.  Lowering the standards, so that dead horses can be included.

7.  Reclassifying the horse as “living impaired”.

8.  Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

9.  Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

10.  Providing addition funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

11.  Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

12.  Declaring that the dead horse carries lower overhead and therefore contributes more to the bottom line than some other horses.

13.  Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

14.  Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Be a Humble Servant Leader

Why does being a humble servant leader work?  First of all, leaders who get lost in metrics and push their employees to accomplish more in less time create an environment of stress and fear.  Job satisfaction under leaders who flex their titles, tell people how to do their job better, and fixate on driving results is low.  These types of leaders mean well, but they get lost in the end results and forget that the journey to success is what can ultimately grant duplication of success.

I am reminded of the old committed vs. compliant question we once asked ourselves in regards to our employees.  We can almost always get compliance.  It is a short term solution to a problem.  Getting commitment from one’s employees will continue to deliver results long after the short term goal was reached.  The idea was simple.  Unfortunately, I have seen the message of that idea get perverted into something it never should have been.  Poor leaders see commitment as working more hours to get the job done, or holding people to impossible standards.  They completely missed the concept.

When a leader steps back from his or her own personal ego, and stops the power trip, amazing things can happen.  When looking at a leadership position as a servant, rather than as a boss directing people to do things, employees’ fear and stress decrease, allowing them to bring their best selves to work.  

How can I help you do your job even better?  Traditional leaders tell employees how they can do their job better instead of allowing their employee to tell them how results could improve.  A humble servant leader knows that the expertise of the employees under them may be more refined than their own.  After all, these are the people that live and breath their job everyday.  A humble leader understands that they themselves can learn something of value from someone in a position lower than them and perhaps they would know best what they may need to do a better job.  It is the role of a leader to listen and help them achieve.  This approach allows the employee to feel empowered and heard.  It increases investment and reduces stress, allowing performance to skyrocket.  Employees who are not afraid to innovate are committed employees.  

Managers that are highly directive fail to get commitment.  Micromanaging people undermines their sense of self worth, undermines their ability to take ownership of results and inspires a compliant atmosphere.

Being a humble servant leader allows the manager to be a nice person as well.  Being a true leader is not simply leading, it is serving employees so that those people are not restricted by stress and fear, but instead they strive to achieve results beyond what even we as leaders thought was possible.

Small Actions = Big Results

In my many years of retail experience, there have been so many small lessons that translate well into a much bigger picture of success in leadership.  Here’s a couple of them:

Pick up the trash.  As a manager, when you walk by a small piece of trash on the floor without picking it up, you are sending a message to your employees.  Whether conscious or subconscious, they will see that and accept that trash on the floor is an acceptable standard.  Conversely, when you don’t walk past it, and stoop over to pick it up, they understand that a clean store is important to you.  The implication of this simple action expands farther out than one may imagine.  It impacts cleanliness as a whole, which impacts shrink, which impacts profitability.  If the receiving area is unclean or cluttered, it becomes a shrink issue.  In a cluttered mess, it is hard to see the product, keep it in sellable condition, and notice when something has gone “missing.”  The simple act of picking up trash on the floor instills the idea in your employees that since you value cleanliness and organization, you also value total store condition.  Not only that, but since you are there to see that trash on the floor and pick it up, that also means that you are on the sales floor and engaging with team members and customers.  You are on the front lines with your team and they will respect that.  Managers must make a consistent habit of being on the sales floor during business hours.  It allows them to feel the pulse of their business and to strengthen things they may only be able to see as a weakness when customers are present.

Recognize the small things so they can’t detract from the big picture.  I am reminded of the time when a customer brought back a $7 package of pens because the ink had dried up, rendering about a quarter of the pens within un-usable.  The customer had bought it four months ago, and despite a clear return policy of thirty days, I made the decision to exchange the product anyway.  Not only that, but I gave them an additional package of refills and apologized that they had to make an additional trip.  I don’t know where they stored the pens, and I’ll never know if they actually bought them that way, but it really didn’t matter.  The only thing that really separates one retailer from another is the experience.  I could have reminded the customer of the return policy, I could have refused to complete the exchange, I even could have told them that I’d do it this time but that I wouldn’t be able to it  again in the future.  But I didn’t.  In the scheme of things, I needed to remember that $10 (pens plus the additional refill pack) was a small price to keep that customer coming back.  And with an experience like that, they would.  I mention this particular story because about three days later, a different customer approached me with their phone and showed me a Facebook post from that very customer regarding the incident and how thrilled they were that there was no hassle.  They even mentioned my store and told their friends to stop in if they needed to purchase office supplies. Organic marketing like that only cost me $10 and a smile.  I had literature to back me up if I had wanted to refuse the exchange.  But I never hesitated.  And I empower my employees to do the same.  We have to remember that people will shop where they get treated well, and they’ll come back because of it.

Use ‘We’.  Have you ever been in a store, talking to an employee about anything and that employee refers to the company as ‘they’?  This implies that the employee is not part of the team, that there’s no ownership, that they feel as though they don’t have a say in what happens with the business.  It shows that the employee is not invested in the success of the business.  There may very well be logistical reasons that an employee would mentally separate a particular segment of the business or department with the one in which they work, but often the customer doesn’t know or understand that distinction.  To them, there are no departmental lines, and the business is simply the business.  We must remember that rule in dealing with our customers.  When I am at a competitor and the employee uses ‘we’ instead of ‘they’ I instantly want them working for me.  Not only that, if I see it multiple times from different employees within the same store, I then instantly want that manager working for me.  Ownership stems from the leadership.  When employees take ownership, the environment is healthy and positive.  When employees are positive, the customer experience shoots through the roof.  The leadership within the building is solely responsible for the store’s vibe.  Customers can inherently feel when a store’s vibe is off as soon as they walk in.  Try to feel the vibe of the store the next time you go shopping.  It’s amazing how naturally we are capable of feeling it when we enter.  When we are not paying attention, we still feel it, but it is a subconscious feeling and we just know that something feels off.

Sometimes small things can make a big impact.  Our small actions as leaders within a store tell our employees what we expect as a whole and what we either are willing or aren’t willing to accept.  

What Makes A Great Leader?

One of the key components to successful leadership is emotional intelligence. In the landscape of team management today, it is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s a ‘need to have’. To better understand the concept, we can break it down into five key features that round it out. You may be or know a manager that has a few of the following attributes, but sadly, very few have all five. Emotional intelligence, however, can be learned, and when a leader possesses all five attributes, the magic begins to happen.

Studies have shown that managers who possess these five attributes beat their yearly earnings goal by nearly 20%. Conversely, leaders who did not, underperformed by almost as much. Obviously IQ and technical skills play a factor, but not to the degree of emotional intelligence. If you take the time to learn these important leadership skills, success will surely follow:

1. Self Awareness

This means thoroughly understanding yourself and your affect on others. For example, leaders who know they have trouble meeting deadlines plan ahead. Being aware of yourself and your challenges allows you to navigate around your shortcomings, rendering them invisible. Self aware leaders have a self-deprecating sense of humor, people who admit to failure easily and with a smile. Self aware people know their abilities and play to their strengths.

Leaders who see themselves clearly, also see their companies clearly. One might assume that someone that admits to shortcomings isn’t tough enough to lead, but actually, knowing and understanding the scope of their own shortcomings shows confidence in their ability to plan around those shortcomings. As leaders, we must constantly judge capabilities. A strong, self aware leader can judge their own capabilities and course correct for weaknesses.

2. Self Regulation

Self regulating is controlling disruptive impulses and thinking before acting. A manager who experiences a team failure on a project may want to pound his fist on the table in anger, but a self regulating leader will explore the reasons for the failure to avoid it in the future. A self regulating leader is thoughtful, and has integrity. Leaders who control their feelings create an atmosphere of fairness and trust. This reduces politics and infighting resulting in higher productivity. It also draws talented people in and curves unethical behavior.

3. Motivation

Motivated leaders are driven to achieve beyond expectation. This is where lead by example occurs. Motivated leaders create an infectious atmosphere of team motivation. They don’t do it for money or status, but because they are passionate about their work. This is an important distinction because it eliminates external motivators and calls out the simple desire from within. They have an internal desire to raise the performance bar. They want to be stretched.

A key component to motivation is optimism, even when the going gets tough. Simply put, as in job postings or performance reviews, a ‘can do’ attitude really refers to the motivation piece in a leader’s toolbox. Someone who sets the bar high for himself will do the same for his company, and the drive to exceed goals is often contagious within the team.

4. Empathy

Empathetic people are good at reading between the lines of what is said and this makes them good at managing group dynamics. It doesn’t mean trying to please everybody, but it does mean being able to see things from others’ points of view.

Empathic leadership is more important now than it has ever been. The prevalence of teams, globalization, and managing talent require empathy to be productive. This is the teamwork and team building skill and to be a great leader, it must be a part of a manager’s skill set. Diversity, cultural and emotional differences within a team is a bubbling cauldron. This is especially important in managing global teams. Managing a diverse team requires empathy from the leader in order for productive collaboration to occur.

Empathetic leaders statistically have less turnover and employees with higher job satisfaction rates.

5. Social Skill

This is not simply friendliness, it is friendliness with a purpose. It draws on the previous four components. Socially skilled people are great at building and leading a team. That’s their empathy at work. They are also expert persuaders due to their self awareness, self regulation, and empathy.

Social skill may be tricky to spot. You may think that employees chatting in the hallway are wasting time, but sometimes “idle schmoozing” is actually relationship building. Building relationships take a little time, and someone with social skills knows that investing that time is worth it. It is always easier asking someone for help that you already know, and ultimately, having met the person you are asking for help from inherently makes the odds of getting that help more viable. Having talked with someone makes them actually want to help you when you need it. That’s what networking is all about.

A leader with social skills is aware of the long term goal. That leader is not someone who can only see short term success. A person like that will trample on people to get what they need and will fail to get collaboration in the future. In other words, despite having motivation, they lack self awareness, self regulation, and empathy, the components that create social skills.

Thanks to the Harvard Business Review and to psychologist Daniel Goleman for the research that made this article possible.

Check out the Harvard Business Review video on which this article was based.