When will we stop giving short shrift to “soft” skills? We’ve all seen it.

We attend conferences, and load up with sessions on technical, subject-matter-specific “hard” skills with a few “soft” skill sessions sprinkled in — usually on leadership, or occasionally, communication. There’s a reason why conference planners schedule time this way. Employees know they can get approval to attend the conference to learn about hard skills, rather than soft skills. When organization budgets get cut, it usually hits soft skill training programs. In many organizations, it’s a rare honor for a manager to be offered leadership or communication training, as though only managers need to communicate effectively. Repeatedly, decision-makers choose to invest money and time for hard skills, but I believe it’s time to re-examine that decision.

Hard skills are easier to teach and measure. You can learn to write code, to use social media, to design a bridge or even to use Windows 10 (on second thought, I’m not so sure about that last one). (read more…)

51DdzWXmsgLThis post is adapted from “Why Should Anyone Work Here? What It Takes to Create an Authentic Organization,” (Harvard Business Review Press, November 2015) by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones.

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The key idea in workplace is “place.” And arguably, in a knowledge-based or clever economy (to use our term from a recent book), this is the new task of leadership: less directly to excite others, more to orchestrate or to create environments where others can follow their own authentic obsession. Modern leadership may be as much about an authenticity of task or place as it is about the person leading and what that individual person thinks or does.

Consider the depressingly low rates of employee engagement around the world. According to a recent AON Hewitt survey, four in 10 workers on average report being “disengaged” worldwide (three out of 10 in Latin America; four in 10 in the US; and five in 10 in Europe). (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

What’s your perspective on hiring veterans?

  • They’re great hires! I love their leadership and operating skills: 63%
  • They’re OK — on par with other candidates I consider: 32%
  • They’re not that good — they don’t fit well with business culture: 3%
  • They’re poor — their skills don’t translate and they don’t fit in: 1%

Vets Welcome Here. It’s encouraging to see such a strong, favorable view of bringing veterans in to be members of a corporate team. Sure I’m biased being a veteran myself but the results of the poll speak for themselves. The better you understand veterans and the challenges they face, the more effectively you can lead them. Spend time exploring their military backgrounds and understanding their perspectives. (read more…)

A wise man said there are three kinds of questions: Ones that show how smart you are, ones that show how dumb they are, and ones that seek information. I think there are a few more kinds than that. But it’s valid to be aware of how others feel about our questions.

So let’s look at the purposes behind questions. When you understand the motivation and desire behind the questions, you frame them to get the answers you seek.

Different kinds of questions produce different kinds of answers. You may be asking the wrong questions for the information you want. This may lead to frustration, co-worker tensions, and poor results.

On the other hand, mastering the art of effective questions will help you rise to the top. Here are the 5 different types of questions to get the results you want.

  1. Informational questions
  2. Analyzing questions
  3. Exploratory questions
  4. Consensus questions
  5. Attacking questions
  6. Condescending questions

Informational questions. (read more…)

On Friday in Paris, 129 people were murdered and 352 injured after at least six attacks on the city — attacks being attributed to terrorists. Now, gyms, supermarkets, museums and more have been closed in the city, and France since has closed its borders — an unprecedented action that brings to mind the desire of a Republican presidential candidate and a Democrat with different ideas. But not an idea that has gone unnoticed, with Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland all making– or underway with — similar arrangements, and other areas considering what to do.

Is that the answer? (read more…)