SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: Which type of skill do you value more in your team members?

  •  Technical — being an expert at their work is key: 18.03%
  • Functional — skills like leadership and problem solving are most critical: 81.97%

It’s the soft skills that matter. While it’s great to be a domain expert in your field, clearly leaders value functional or soft skills more. Those soft skills can be applied to a broad array of issues, opportunities, and challenges and people who possess those skills are easier to move around the organization to solve other problems. What gets even more interesting is thinking beyond functional skills to “role-based skills” like devil’s advocate, cheerleader, driver, etc. Leaders who can manage all three critical types of skills are much more likely to succeed than those who stay focused solely on the technical competencies. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: Which method do you use when allocating work?

  • To the first person available: 0.75%
  • Based on skill set only: 5.09%
  • Based on skill, availability and interest: 84.88%
  • I shift resources to the highest priority item: 9.28%
  • Based on first-in, first-out: 0%

Work allocation is multi-dimensional. Clearly allocating work requires multiple factors be considered. If you’re one of the small minority of leaders using only skill set or shifting resources based on priority, consider viewing work allocation more broadly and evaluating all the critical aspects of doling out assignments. Your team will perform better, be happier, and you’ll get more work done than you will by constantly shifting things around.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and author of “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.” (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How comfortable are you asking questions you don’t know the answers to?

  • Very — I have no problem asking questions about any topic: 84.4%
  • Somewhat — I don’t do it very often: 13.42%
  • Not very — I tend to only ask questions I know the answer to: 1.34%
  • Not at all — I avoid asking questions as much as possible: .84%

Questions lead to insight. Early in our careers, we’re trained to always have the answer. As we assume larger leadership roles, it is imperative that we lead the thinking rather than leading the work. Doing so effectively requires you to ask the questions you don’t know the answers to. In so doing, you can take the team beyond their current understanding of the world and lead them to explore new ideas, new opportunities, and new risks. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: Do you consider your team to be high-performing?

  • Absolutely — we’re a very high-performing team: 41.84%
  • Kind of — we have moments of high performance: 47.11%
  • Not really — we rarely have high-performing moments: 6.05%
  • Definitely not — this team needs a lot of improvement: 5%

Be deliberate about high performance. Sometimes you get lucky and find yourself with a high-performing set of superstars on your team. More often than not, that’s not the case. If you want to get your team to be high-performing, you need to take deliberate steps to get them to that level. Things like succession planning, setting a vision, allocating work, and creating development opportunities will go a long way to upping your team’s game but you have to perform these activities rigorously, regularly, and in an intentional manner. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How frequently do you use storytelling to influence and lead people?

  • All the time — I’m constantly telling stories: 45.03%
  • Sometimes — I tell a story on occasion: 43.91%
  • Rarely — I’m not known for telling stories: 9.29%
  • Never — I don’t use stories at all to lead: 1.76%

Use the power of stories. Influencing and leading through stories is a tremendously powerful skill. While some may think storytelling is too much of an art or a soft skill, it’s actually a simple process and a skill you can readily build. Find examples of great stories and pay attention to how they’re crafted. The better you are at telling compelling stories, the more effective you’ll be as a leader. (read more…)