Leaders lack the “soft” touch
According to a study from Bridgeville, Pa.-based Development Dimensions International (DDI), taken from a meta-analysis of DDI's assessment data from close to 4,000 leaders worldwide, most front-line leaders lack the interaction skills and behaviors to be effective leaders.
And senior leaders are even worse.
The study, Driving Workplace Performance through High-Quality Conversations: What Leaders Must Do Every Day to Be Effective, indicates that what is absent at every level of leadership is the capacity to facilitate conversation.
"Senior leaders," the release says, "have not mastered these skills and are no better off, even though they have been at it longer."
The research shows, 90 percent of executives act before checking their understanding of an issue and are ineffective at inviting ideas from others. Only 11 percent successfully preserve their colleagues' self-esteem and display empathy that would demonstrate interpersonal diplomacy. Front-line leaders fared only slightly better in these areas than their seniors.
Leaders should follow five interpersonal practices, according to DDI:
●Maintain or enhance self-esteem by being specific about what people do and why their contributions matter;
● Listen and respond with empathy, showing understanding for the facts and feelings being expressed;
● Ask for help and encourage involvement by employing questions to unleash everyone's ideas;
●Share thoughts, feelings and rationale to build trust and provide context; and
●Provide support without removing responsibility to build ownership and accountability.
In an earlier global workforce study by DDI, Lessons for Leaders from the People Who Matter: How Employees Around the World View Their Leaders, 60 percent of 1,279 workers polled worldwide by DDI indicated their managers at least sometimes damage their self-esteem, while a third said their managers don't remain calm and constructive when discussing a problem.
●49 percent say their managers sometimes or never ask for their ideas to help solve problems
●47 percent say they sometimes or never help them solve problems without simply solving the problems for them
●45 percent sometimes or never get sufficient feedback on their performance
Convincing proof that "leaders simply are not good enough when it comes to their interaction skills," DDI's report says.
Many leaders model one or more of the characteristics identified in the report as the 11 key derailers of effective leadership: