“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” ~ John Quincy Adams. Although there are no set standards of life skills set to have, in order to be successful, as we all have different skills set to see us through the hassle and bassles of life, there are a set of life skills that I personally feel you should acquire in order that you are distinguished from the rest. This set of life skills, I think is the distinction between success and failure. The skills mentioned in this article will be more useful especially to those in a leadership role. “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people” ~ Mohandas Gandhi.
The skill of influencing
The first among the life skills is influence. Maybe let’s start by defining the word its self influence. Here are some dictionary definitions;
- The ability to change someone’s views, attitude or behaviours
- The power of a person to have an effect on someone else resulting from ability, position or wealth.
If you are a leader this is one skill that you will need and use very often. You need to know how to communicate in a way that “gains support”. Why do you want to gain support? Influencing a group of people should be distinct from coercion and trickery. People do not want to be tricked or coerced. If you to be a good leader you will use your influencing skill to gain support from your team or group of people. Let the people follow you willingly and you will gain their unwavering trust even in times of difficulties.
Influence goes hand in hand with power. As we have noted in the definition above. Power can be thought of in a number of ways, each relevant to the way leaders can influence others;
- Expert power – this comes due to the knowledge one has gained
- Personal power – this comes by way of what other people think about you. The more highly respected the more likely you are able to influence them.
- Position power – this is gained through your position in an organization
Influencing skills are a combination of various other skills when brought together, these can help you change someone’s views, attitude or behaviour.
A good leader will always delegate some of his duties. What is delegation? “This is giving responsibility to someone to carryout tasks that you normally do yourself. By delegating you give others the authority to do things, but you remain accountable and responsible for their outcome”. Delegation encourages; communicating what is expected and builds trust between leader and subordinates among others. To understand delegation you need to have honest answers to the following questions.
- How do you give responsibility to someone else?
- How do you ensure that they feel clear about what they are being asked to do?
Delegation is a powerful tool. Many leaders do not understand why they should delegate. Here is why I think delegation is a great tool.
- Delegation releases your time to concentrate on other important matters
- Builds the capability of others in your team. Remember that no one is indispensable. The organization has to continue growing with or without you.
“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit” ~ Andrew Carnegie. Remember always that a leader is team player. In our society today we lack young leaders simply because there is no delegation from the top to help groom the young ones. Theodore Roosevelt says “the best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it”.
The final skill for this part is persuasion. “The act or process of encouraging someone to do or believe someone”. Aristotle broke down persuasion and separated it into three kinds of appeals.
- An appeal to “ethos” – the credibility person making the persuasive argument. This maybe how convinced you are by that person.
- An appeal to “logos” – the use of logic to support a claim. How do the facts being presented add up?
- An appeal to “pathos” – the emotional or motivational appeal.
Being persuasive also means being able to sell a message. Those in the sales and marketing industry will agree with me that they use persuasion more often when trying to sell products/services especially to potential customers. I love the saying by Professor Bob Sutton “argue if you are right, listen if you are wrong”. Many of the times we know when one has made a mistake. I think it is also very humbling to acknowledge as a leader that you made a mistake and allow your subordinates to make suggestions. Most of the answers we are looking for are just within our team or group.
Selling a message can mean; convincing your colleagues to a certain approach or methodology; like I mentioned above with the sales guys, persuading your would be customers to buy services or products and bringing your colleagues or members of your group to agree with your ideas. We all have the skill of persuasion in us all it needs is to be awaken. Most successful leaders I have come across or read about are very persuasive. Remember persuasion can be used to influence people to do negative to society. I do not advocate for negativity and I encourage you to use these skills positively and help change the world into a better place for all.
I am tempted to write more in this article, I will leave it at the 3 life skills for now and will continue in the next article. I do not wish to make my article very long. As you read these articles reflect on the life skills that you have acquired this far and evaluate them if they are helping you to succeed in life. There is no written down formula for success and there are no prescribed life’s skill set for success these are only suggestions. You are the formula and you shall succeed in whatever you do and always remember to “standout tall and be counted”.