Q: As a manager with particularly strong technical knowledge, do I really need to concern myself with ‘leadership skills training’? My company’s plans for next year revolve around a ‘leadership culture’.
Any work on culture is great news, in terms of setting a standard – a poster on a wall cannot dictate what your culture will be (although some still try that shortcut!) Leadership style is always an important component. Why? One reason is that many companies expand by promoting their technical Subject Matter Experts, resulting in varied leadership styles and standards across the business. This eventually needs to be addressed. However, remember that people leave managers, not companies – these skills help you, the manager, very directly. A manager can have a variety of personalities in her team, and needs to be able to read, communicate with, and motivate all of them, whilst moving them forward in line with strategy.
I would suggest that you logically evaluate the benefits – for you, your team, your peers, the business – of your engagement with, versus disengagement from, this theme. It is quite normal to be cynical at the start – bring your questions and doubts with you, and discuss them.
Throughout next year, you may decide that leadership skills are important. You may remain unconvinced, but decide to act on a few basic points, as a safety net. You may decide that this culture is not for you and soldier on, or move on. Who knows? Whatever the outcome, remember that leadership is a key focus in most companies nowadays – do not quickly dismiss this highly transferable knowledge.
This Q&A was first published in Irish Tatler magazine.
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