An Unexpected Revelation

I closed last time by promising to share what I learned a few years ago about the origin of soft skills so let’s dive right in!

Many of the civilian folks I’ve interacted with for the majority of my life have had the perception that people in the military, especially those in commanding roles, are brash and dictate orders for everyone around them to follow without any consideration for those pesky feelings. I suppose movies like Full Metal Jacket have helped build that perception in many of us who have not served in the military. Truth be told though, I can’t point to a single military veteran that I’ve worked with who’s barked orders to the people reporting to them. In fact, I’ve seen the exact opposite!

The first former military manager I worked with, Terry, was also a West Point graduate. If anyone should have had that command and control approach, it should have been him - right? I mean, West Point has a reputation for being extremely tough on...

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A Solid Framework to Build On

An article I recently read on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website titled In Search of Soft Skills: Why you should teach employees to be more resilient, communicative, and creative opened by stating “Being gifted at performing the technical aspects of a job can take an employee only so far. To become a stellar employee or an admired leader requires an arsenal of skills that are harder to measure but critical to success.”

I agree with most of that statement, kinda… To me, the idea of gifted implies that someone is naturally good at something. While we all know a few folks who seem to pick up on certain technical skills faster than the rest of us, I’ve seen far more people who master their craft through an intense amount of dedication and effort. I’m betting that calling those folks gifted and acting like they didn’t work hard to become great at what they do will piss them off! I do, however, agree that mastering the technical...

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What Do They Mean by “Soft Skills”?

In his Forbes.com article titled Here Are The Top 5 Soft Skills I Look For In Candidates, Mark Pena opens by saying, “In an automating workforce, soft skills are the irreplaceably human element of work - and the thing employers are desperate to find.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the idea of soft skills referenced throughout my career, but I’ve rarely heard anyone provide tangible examples of soft skills that I could learn quickly or apply immediately. I’m not suggesting that it’s not possible or never happens, I’m just saying it’s rare… Soft Skills seem to almost always be something that’s ambiguous, or something that you either have or you don’t. I’ve just never been willing to buy into that idea, especially when I hear things like “you get hired for what you know but you get fired for who you are…” (There’s even a Psychology Today article with nearly that exact...

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Meet Their Needs, Exceed Their Expectations!

Now that we have a solid definition of servant leadership to work from, and we’ve looked at some servant leadership practices that will help us meet the needs of our team members based on their own behavioral style, let’s close the loop with some final thoughts on how we can move this from being just something we do to something each of the leaders on our team will work to do…

As we worked through some of these thoughts recently, I shared a quote with you from The Servant by James Hunter saying that “a leader is someone who recognizes and meets the legitimate needs of their people, and removes all the barriers so they can serve the customer.” If we really want to build servant leadership into the entire culture of our organizations, we certainly need to start with looking at how we can recognize and meet those legitimate needs of the folks we interact with directly but we also need to work to ensure they understand how important it is for them to do...

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Specific Details and Time to Complete the Task

Having looked ways we can truly serve the needs of our team members with each of the first three behavioral styles - DRIVEN, INSPIRING, and SUPPORTIVE - to this point, let’s close the loop with the final 25% of the population; the ones who tend to be Reserved and Task-Oriented. Please understand that none of these styles should be viewed as better than the others based on the order I’ve covered them in. This group certainly shouldn’t be considered as being in last place! In fact, some of the smartest people we know are likely to have this primary style… These are the CRITICAL thinkers and they’re nearly always very CONSCIENTIOUS about the results they produce.

I was in a client’s office several years ago, getting ready to provide a part of their team with an introductory lesson on The Model of Human Behavior, when one of the management team members had a fairly intense conversation (read: loud argument) with one of the key team members. Since...

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All Work and No Play?

When Cindy and I work with teams on building stronger and more effective communication into their cultures, The Model of Human Behavior is one of the tools we share because it provides a simple and extremely practical approach that can be implemented right away. As we do this, we emphasize that our team members often do the exact same things but for VERY different reasons depending on their own unique behavioral style. Cindy goes on to explain that I, as one of those highly DRIVEN folks I mentioned last time, serve the people I care about by working as hard as I possibly can to achieve results. While my focus is primarily on the task at hand, I’m doing it to provide for my family or my team…

Here’s the thing: I’m in the small minority of the population that actually enjoys working! Accomplishing things and checking tasks off my list fills my tank. And praise God everyone you deal with isn’t like me, right! (For many reasons…) Seriously though,...

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Make Sure Our Help Really Helps...

As we’ve discussed leading up to this point, becoming an effective servant leader certainly involves exemplifying several specific characteristics but even those can be interpreted quite differently depending on the behavioral and communication style of the individual we’re attempting to serve! And whether we always like it or not, their perception is nearly always their reality!

Several years ago, not long before I really started digging into The Model of Human Behavior, I was working in a human resources role where part of my responsibility was ensuring that our team members were consistently held accountable for performing their required tasks. As I got to know each individual and learned more about their roles, I noticed some gaps in one particular department. There was more indirect labor (non-billable hours) per person in that department than any other and the quality issues seemed to be a bit higher than we were seeing in the other areas.

The supervisor of that...

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Helping Them Achieve Results

I remember seeing a Marriott commercial a while back that closed by saying something along the lines of “we treat our guests like we’d want to be treated.” Ties right in with what nearly all of us know as The Golden Rule, huh? Around that same time, a friend of mine had shared something he experienced while on vacation with his family. For one reason or another, the hotel they were staying at for an entire week had made a mistake with their reservation, booking them in one room for the first half of the week and a different room for the second half of the week. Since it was peak season and the place had no other vacancies, there was no way to keep them in the same room all week long.

At check-in however, the staff member assured my friend that the hotel staff would handle the move from room to room for them in order to minimize the disruption his family experienced. The staff member even told him that’s what they would appreciate if the same thing happened to...

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Serving Specific Needs - Perception is Reality

With a solid foundation of Defining Servant Leadership in place, we can now focus our attention on making sure we’re serving the team we’re leading in a way that really matters to them! This WILL NOT be a one-size-fits-all approach…

Before we start down that path though, I’d like to share something with you from The Servant by James Hunter. I read this book at least a decade ago and absolutely loved it. I apparently loaned it to someone hoping they’d enjoy it as much as I did. They must have because I don’t believe I ever got it back. Oh well… With my new love for listening to books on Audible at 3X the normal speed, I’ve been able to get through this outstanding parable about servant leadership twice in just the last few days. I won’t share the story leading up to this quote - you’ll need to read or listen to it yourself for that - but in chapter two, Hunter suggested that “a leader is someone who recognizes and...

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Exemplifying Servant Leadership

When I trained teams on behavior-based safety across North America, a point we always covered was that you can’t see someone’s attitude or their emotions but we can get a solid read on their attitude and their emotions by observing their behavior. Today as Cindy and I provide Strategic Leadership Coaching for individuals from various organizations that we’ve done training for, we work with them to ensure they’re achieving the best possible results from the immediate action steps they commit to applying based on what they learned in the sessions with us. The first question I always ask them is what their team will be able to see them doing differently as they apply the steps they’ve outlined. In either case, the behaviors we choose provide the people around us with a clear picture of what we believe - our attitude and our emotions!

To this point, I’ve shared some background on the idea of servant leadership with hopes of providing a solid...

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