The Number One Workplace Skill that Every Leader Needs

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In April 2015, my company put up an advert in search of a Personal Assistant for the Company Head and in 5 fixed days for advert opening we got over 2,800 CV’s. The composition of these CV’s were astonishing – 73% were from Nigerian universities with 74% of them as first degree holders and the rest Master’s degree holders; the rest 27% were also First degree and Master’s degree holders from the UK and USA. It was awful and mystifying as shortlisting became an issue. Just one criteria was what we watched out for aside technical proficiency and this I would expound with this editorial.

Today’s workplace has placed on us an ever growing pressure to produce results and stay on top of our games no matter our workplace cadre, and in this present Nigerian economic era of change and oil doom. It has become unsustainably tougher to sustain low human productivity versus automated efficiency. In response to these threats, a whole lot of people in Nigeria’s workforce are chasing a bulk of certifications to make them wholly qualified to become front-runners which has brought up a new debate in productive terms that… Is certification equal qualification?

These persons have chased being certified in everything arguing that it boosts their earning and staying power overtime – This reminds me of a ‘Gallup.com’ statistics I saw on CNN while watching ‘Passion to Portfolio’ stating that ‘Globally 1.3 billion people have good jobs but only 12% of those people are engaged’ (meaning have passion for their jobs).

Interestingly, today’s workplace has soundlessly placed a higher demand on our soft skills for leadership performance than on technical efficiency and this is due to the competitive availability of technical proficiency than for soft skills. Haven’t you noticed that the man with the best of leadership skills in the office is better promoted and scales faster than the rest? Or have you met an unproductive leader?

But despite the billions of naira corporately and annually spent by both private and public Nigerian institutions into diverse soft-skill and technical trainings, is the workplace actually retrained? Is there more into technical’s than soft-skills? It surely would reflect in any return on investment. At this point of stress and dive in meeting quarterly targets, there should be a focus on the number one workplace skill that every staff and leader would need and it is Effective Communication.

This week, I will introductorily validate my point with a story as we begin a 4 week series into ‘Workplace Communication’.

This reminds me of a client of ours who works with the NNPC. She told me how routine work is despite her fantastic pay and bonuses with benefits as a departmental head. She stated and I paraphrase ‘I have been trained in different countries on communication and other related ones, but I come back and return inadequately changed; these trainings are always cool and exciting but I always return the same’. She said… Do you know that I have been denied promotion twice? My mates are managers and senior managers while I feel dejected. An analysis into her problem revealed to us her core communication inadequacies which have been driven by her deepest fears and background inadequacies but the rest today is story because today she looks forward to going to work as she is getting more done and she hasn’t stopped recommending.

Remarkably, she said… Now, my work-life has improved, I contribute better and my opinion counts plus other positives and my manager has noticed this upgrade in my capacity & productivity. A mentor of mine once told me a story about the New York Mayors Office whose Mayor wanted to improve the productivity of his office after the World War II and all he did was follow the experts advice to invest in the Communication skill of his Office and in a year he got over 22% productivity increment.

Summarily, when we talk communication as the number one workplace skill, we are talking about authentic communication, one that helps you achieve workplace satisfaction and productivity.

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