Do you run your business on social skills?
What skills do you think you need in order to be really successful at work?
It may seem obvious; you need, of course, to have very good technical skills, by which I mean you need to be an excellent lawyer, wealth manager, estate agent, manufacturer or whatever it is that you do. But there comes a point when your job shifts from being predominantly technical to being more about management. You probably still have financial targets to meet and you need to be a fee earner but you are no longer doing all the technical part yourself. You will have a team to manage and oversee, and the way you motivate and manage others becomes critical to the success of the business.
If you are in professional services and are client-facing it is likely that you have very good social skills. You establish rapport easily, your clients like you and trust you and people want to do business with you. Most people believe that they use these two sets of skills at work and they will allow them to rise up the organisation. But the problem is, however charismatic you are, good at communicating and adept at influencing others, you will reach a point when you will find that your social skills alone are not enough to make you an excellent manager or leader.
Typically, people try to have social relationships with the people they work with and they believe that is the best and only way of having good working professional relationships. So, if you’re having problems with a member of your team you take him out for lunch. Or you believe team building is your Friday night down the pub. But you still have a nagging concern that you didn’t really solve the issue with your team member (who still seems to be sulking in a corner of the office), or your team don’t seem to be supporting each other any more than they did before you spent your Friday evenings buying them drinks. Not only that, you will face situations where your social skills just won’t cut it. How do you reprimand someone in your team when you’re both ‘mates’? How do you make difficult and unpopular decisions without upsetting people in your organisation who always thought you were so ‘nice’.
If this sounds a bit familiar it’s worth knowing that there’s another whole set of skills completely distinct from your social skills that you need to master if you are to have good professional working relationships. Normal everyday social skills won’t help you much if the business hits a rocky patch. In fact people who aren’t naturally friends at work often do better in these situations because they have had to negotiate explicit agreements about how they want to work and communicate.
If this still seems a bit confusing, look at the distinctions in the table below:-
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