What attribute is critical for success in organizations yet most frequently overlooked? Genius? Hardly. There are plenty of people with successful careers who are not geniuses. Training? It’s useful. Experience helps, and problem solving skills do as well.
The real rocket fuel that powers us is motivation, which draws upon all our strengths and provides the impetus for purposeful, focused achievement. This is not, however, the overlooked quality I want to draw attention to. There’s another variable that is essential for success, especially in organizations.
Unless you own the company, interpersonal skills are vital. Your effectiveness in human relations, or your lack of it, may determine whether you advance or get left behind on the promotion ladder.
Do you pay attention to and understand the personal values of superiors, subordinates, peers and others? Do you recognize the needs of others? Are you developing positive working relationships with co-workers? Are you a team player? Are you self-aware? That is, do you know how you come across in meetings or in the break room?
In my first annual performance review in a corporate position, I was jarred by a pointed comment my boss made. He said he usually looks for 120% from the members of his team, and appreciated that I was giving 200%. This was said in a manner that indicated more was coming.
Then he told me to notice how Jim carried himself in the office. “You need to stop and smell the roses once in a while.”
I hadn’t been thinking of others. I was focused on being a superstar. I loved what I was doing and accomplishing for the company. But I was in my own bubble. These words served to prick the skin of that bubble and actually liberated me.
Building rapport with others is useful for getting things done, but also useful if there comes a time when you get promoted. They will support you when you aren’t just about you. That is, when everyone knows you are about the team.
Trust is another important word in business. Building a climate of trust in the office makes it easier to get things done. Your integrity and team building will make it easier to get things done, and your efforts will attract favorable attention from your superiors.
Speaking of superiors, loyalty to your boss is good but working effectively with other members of the management team will help establish your credibility in a broader realm.
The key to success in organizations is social intelligence.
This past year I read a biography of Nikola Tesla and I was struck not only by his innovative genius, which he had in abundance, but by his interpersonal shortcomings. Thomas Edison’s genius may be what we remember, but to have accomplished all he achieved took more than brains. Interpersonal skills undoubtedly contributed.
It made me wonder how many other inventors we’ve never heard of because they weren’t easy to get along with.
I’m just sowing seeds here. If it’s a word you need to hear, take it to heart.