Good news! The people skills that are the core of effective leadership skills are powerful beyond the world of work. They promote strong relationships with friends and family. You can – and you should – use them with your kids.
Think about what people skills involve: listening, keeping an open mind when engaging in dialog, accepting the feedback people give you, helping people learn from experience, and resolving conflict, to name a few. Yes, doing these things well is essential to getting the best work from your team. But clearly, these are life skills.
They’re essential to being a parent. Keeping an open mind while talking with a teenager – this doesn’t come naturally. A kid will pop off with something emotional, say something that angers you or shocks you. Your instinct is to say, “You shouldn’t say that.” That’s not dialog. End of conversation.
If a plumber sends you a bill, but he didn’t fix things right, can you resolve the conflict? Can you get what you need while the plumber gets what he needs?
If you’re trying to buy a car, you need to listen, give feedback, and negotiate. The same interpersonal skills that are essential to effective leadership turn out to be vital in your personal life. It’s because they’re all about getting results through people. Leaders need to do that, but so does everyone else.
And it’s not just people skills. It’s also the personal strengths that leaders need to be strong when facing difficult challenges. You need behavior patterns such as patience, perseverance, tolerance, trust, integrity, compassion – and all of the dozens of other personal strengths. Every single one of these strengths is crucial to how you deal with people away from the workplace. Clearly, there are costs for not engaging these strengths when dealing with people in your community, or when relating with members of your family.
Probably most, if not all of the skills and strengths that leaders depend on are also essential to being an effective human being. If you use effective leadership skills at work, they can be there for you in your personal life. If you fall short as a leader, very likely there will be consequences in other areas of your life as well. Personal strengths will help you succeed no matter what you do – whether you’re in sales or you’re delivering customer service. They make a huge difference, whether you’re a teacher, a coach, a counselor, or a parent.
Effective leadership skills and personal strengths are a baseline, a core aspect of being effective that will make you strong no matter what you’re doing. Whenever you have to do something hard, personal strengths will help you get through it.