People orientated skills 1.    Master of communication and public relation
2.    Recruiting and promoting
3.    Develop and maintain stakeholder relationships
4.    Selling and leading change
5.    Provisioning for the team
6.    Develop, engage, and trust
7.    Valuing results and people
8.    Valuing work life balance
Personal skills 9.    Have a vision of your legacy
10. Embrace abandonment (letting go of the past)
11. Define the mission, values, vision, and strategy
12. Managing through the organisation’s critical success factors
13. Champion of innovation, quality and learning
14. A Focus on execution
15. Using your mentors and a safe haven effectively

The People Orientated Skills to Master

  1. Mastering Communication and Public Relations

You cannot lead unless others understand your vision and are sold the “flight tickets” for the journey. Mastering communication means understanding the importance of one-to-one communications, being seen by your staff, working the public relations machine and mastering the written and spoken word.

Work the Public Relations Machine

Shackleton loved the press and they loved him back.  This is true of many great CEOs. Two that come to mind are Jack Welch and Richard Branson.  There is no one better at working the public relations machine than these two men.

Master the Oral and Written Word

Leaders need to realize that being a good orator is a vital part of leadership.  Time and effort needs to be devoted to delivering a meaningful message.  Special coaching and endless practice should be seen as an important investment rather than a chore.

Suu Kyi is a gifted communicator, able to deliver a speech without once referring to her notes, mesmerizing her audience with a consistent message of non-violent change. She was also able to converse with students, monks, the poor and also world leaders, treating all as equal.

Both Shackleton and Churchill understood the importance of being a good presenter and writer.  Churchill went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 and his speeches are still considered some of the best of the 20th century.

Florence Nightingale revolutionised the use of statistics to create a compelling argument and was one of the first to use diagrams to communicate her analysis of casualties. Her diagram is revered as a forerunner to data visualization as we know it today, see exhibit 2.

Jack Welch is known for his ability to communicate and motivate.  While a CEO of General Electric, he would deliver many training sessions at the GE management and leadership school at Crotonville. A school which was set up in the fifties and one which was influenced by the work of Peter Drucker. In addition, Welch’s books on management and leadership are masterful in the way he gets ideas across.  I would argue the pupil exceeded the master in this respect (Drucker met with Welch on several occasions and was a big influence).

He has developed phases and stories, over the years, that sum up, perfectly what he wants to get across. There will be hundreds of his “one-liners” that will outlive Welch.  Here is a sample of his quotes:

“Get better or get beaten”

 “If you are big enough you can go to bat often, take a swing and miss a few and still be in the game”

“Emotional maturity, integrity and intelligence are tickets to the game”

“Never buy a company with a culture that does not match yours”

“Don’t run for office as you are already elected”

“Use every brain in the game”

“Ponder less and do more”

“Work is too much a part of life not to recognise moments of achievements”

Perhaps it is time you started sharing your views, thoughts, and experiences with a wider public.



Exhibit 2: Florence Nightingale’s Diagram showing her statistical analysis of war casualties (visit

The ‘Nightingale Rose’ diagram made it clear that ten times more soldiers died of infectious disease than from wounds received in battle. In other words, it was disease, not the Russians, that was the real enemy. She plotted the data clockwise on two connected circular charts, with 30-degree segments representing each month. For each month, causes of death were shown in superimposed wedges: The large lighter shaded area represents the ‘preventable diseases’ (such as cholera and dysentery), red for ‘wounds’ and black for ‘all other causes’.

Informal One-to-One Communication

Managers today have meeting after meeting.  They believe it is more efficient than holding one-to-one meetings. Yes, in one hour ten people are listening to the manager, but at the end those ten people will walk out and carry on as if the last hour did not happen. The key to effective management is to hold fewer meetings and use more one-to-one sessions.  They do not have to be long if you are doing plenty of walking around among the staff.

Shackleton always personalized communication.  If a major change was about to be made, he would mention it in passing individually so that when he publicly announced the change it came as no surprise. The bad news was never unexpected.  He always canvassed the men when the likely options were unpleasant. In other words, when he said, “We will need to risk the trip to Elephant Island,” the men knew that this was the only likely option.

Churchill’s personal correspondence kept him close to key people and enabled him to forge very strong personal alliances.

Avoid Public Fights

All eminent leaders realize that the world is a small place and “what goes around comes around.” They take care to avoid alienating themselves from individuals whom they do not like.  One of the best pieces of advice I have been given is to always approach those who are your adversaries, your roadblocks, and take them out for coffee or lunch. It is the hardest thing to do and yet the most effective.

Shackleton had little time for Scott but had only positive words for him when expressing an opinion in public.  He knew it is a small world and he might need Scott’s support one day. Florence Nightingale was known for her wonderful sense of humor which she used constructively to diffuse tensions.

Socially Skilled

Daniel Goleman in his ground-breaking work “What makes a Leader” said that social skill was one of the five components of emotional intelligence.

“Socially skilled people tend to have a wide circle of acquaintances, and they have a knack of finding common ground with people of all kinds-  a knack of building rapport.”

Socially skilled people see networking as vital, as money in the bank, to be drawn on when needed. They can quickly pull together divergent resources together because they have built contacts who trust them or who owe them a favour.

Leaders can never be too visible to their staff.  Great leaders take a walk at least twice a day when they are in the office.  Not only does it give them some much-needed exercise but it ensures that they can catch up with staff they might not normally see during meetings. Unfortunately, often it is only the older and more experienced managers who walk around the office—the younger managers believe that an email will do! Drucker was very scathing about leaders who communicate by email, his advice was “Go and ask”.

Every night, no matter how many degrees below freezing it was, Shackleton would visit each tent for a pep-talk. He would wake in the early hours of the morning to keep the man on watch company (his need for a basic four hours’ sleep would no doubt have been a considerable advantage).  He always found time to cheer up team members who were feeling depressed about their prospects.

Churchill flew incredible journeys during World War II, at great risk to his health, to visit the different theatres of war. He was always inspecting what the scientists had to offer. He also regularly visited areas of London that had been riddled with bombs.

One week a year, George Hickton, a successful New Zealand CEO and leader, likes to take his executive team to run a part of the business with the existing staff by their side showing them the ropes.  His executive teams in the past have run an employment centre, a betting agency, and a tourist information centre.

Richard Branson is very skilled in this area. He is forever seen with his staff, many of whom have pictures at their office or their home of when they met him.  I would suggest that not many CEOs would have their photo taken as many times with their staff as he does.

On one occasion, when Virgin was opening yet another route, they organized a party for staff, asking them to bring their partner and their best friend. Branson stood by the door all night, kissing the women and shaking the hands of all the men. A professional photographer and support crew were on hand to ensure every person had a photo with Branson. Where do you think, these photographs went? —centre of the mantelpiece (wedding photo moved to the right). What do you think the staff member’s best friend thought every time they looked at the photo?

We cannot all be like Branson, but we should be able to be recognized and spoken to by any staff members who see us. You know you have got it right when all staff feel confident at any time to come up and wish you “Good Morning, Pat” when you arrive at work.

A better practice is to spend 20 minutes walking among your team members each day, posing a question or two to show you are up with the play and to keep them on their toes.

Charismatic Leadership is not a Necessity

One of the most interesting findings in the work of Collins and Porras was that most of the “built to Last “organisations researched had CEOs who got on with their job without too much fanfare.  In other words, being charismatic may be useful but it is not a requirement.

  1. Recruiting and Promoting the right people

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