Welcome to part 3 of “the 9 must have life skills”. This is the final part of the 3 series. Let’s start with a quick recap of the past two articles. In part one I mentioned the first three life skills namely, influencing; delegation and persuasion. We went on to describe these in detail click here to read part 1. In part two I talked about the next three life skills namely; coaching, feedback and conflict handling click here to read part 2. “A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him” ~ General Douglas MacArthur. “A leader is a dealer in hope” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte. The last three life skills are the ones that expose your inner being, to the outside world. Remember you work from the inside out and not vice versa. You are made of what is inside you. You must know that all growth is from within. You cannot give out what you do not have. People will only judge you from what they see and how you present yourself to them. I will now present the life skills as below:
Presentation is an area that can be a challenge to many. We all make judgement by seeing or rather analysing the presentation by a colleague or friend. In my own humble definition I regard presentation as way to send and receive information in a way that makes people want to hear what you are saying or doing. Presentation can come in many different forms. In fact we are always presenting ourselves on a daily basis, be it at work or to our customers, friends, spouses, children and the list is endless.
Presentation is about getting your message across a section of society. In doing this, you should ask yourself what you want to achieve. A good leader should also be a good presenter. If you are in leadership this is the skill that will influence your team members to appreciate or agree with your philosophies. The key to being a good presenter, is knowing what you want to achieve. To effectively get your message across, it is important to consider these two perspectives;
- What do you want to say?
Dale Canergie, once said “there are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wished you gave”.
As I mentioned before, the skill of presentation is mainly to deal with the public. The public in this instance are the people you come into contact with every day. If you want to create a lasting impression on people you need to be a good presenter.
What is facilitation? This is a life skill that is needed and mostly used in a meeting environment. Facilitation is the art and science of helping a group or team in their thinking, planning, and decision making. Imagine the chaos and confusion there would be when you are holding a meeting without a moderator or facilitator. Very often we do not realise the knowledge and potential we have within a given grouping or team. In many cases the insights and knowledge needed to resolve problems and or identify innovative ways forward, are just within the team. The skill to unlock this potential knowledge and solution is most times found in facilitation. A good facilitator will strike a balance between dominant personalities and those that are less dominant.
Facilitation mainly focuses on progress rather than arguments. It is very common during meetings to drift away from the point being discussed and so it is very important that the facilitator does not lose focus. There are 3 main elements to effective facilitation:
- Focus on progress – the key to successful facilitation is to focus on progress. To achieve this you need to set the right tone of the meeting and ensure that the participants are motivated from the start to end. You will also need to use your feedback life skills to ensure that information is flowing smoothly and at the end of it all a consensus has to be built.
- Interpersonal skills – to manage progress you need not only keep things on track but, you also need to use good interpersonal skills. These will include having a good command of; rapport building; effective communication verbal and non-verbal; listening actively and how you use your question technique.
- Personal characteristics – we all have different characteristics though I feel that the following are a must have to achieve better facilitation; ability to learn; sensitivity; openness to change; self-awareness; friendliness and off-course some sense of humour.
The last and final life skill set is rather not a skill but something I feel should be acquired in your life “team meetings”. As a leader you will need to have regular meetings with your team or group. The key to effective team meeting is to know why the meeting is being held. So before you call for a meeting ensure that your mind is clear and certain as to why you are calling for the meeting. I will not go into details of what a meeting should be but they could be formal or informal.
As a leader only hold meeting when necessary. I have worked in companies where meeting are held unnecessarily. Meetings if not well planned for can be a share waste of company time as they take way the time for doing other duties. The best way is to have planned meetings with set targets. Only “bosses” call for unnecessary meetings. Another key factor is to call only people you think need to be present or will make a worthwhile contribution. You see when you call for a meeting it is your reputation at stake. Make sure you build a reputation for handling meetings very well.
Leading team meetings effectively requires a wide range of skills. These skills could include the ability to focus on how the meeting is progressing and blending it with your own interpersonal life skills and characteristics. To achieve this you need to build your knowledge base and step out of the box. In fact let’s just say remove the box altogether; think about what you are doing as a group and get a lot of practice.
I hope you have learnt something from the three series I will end with a Chinese proverb ~ “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”. Until next time remember to “standout tall and be counted”.