Is this a trick question?  No.  The answer is simple, but the reality isn’t. 

I know there are all the good things like compensation, time off, insurance, work-life balance policies, remote work, doughnuts on Friday and pizza at lunch meetings.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Anyone can do that. 

What makes a company great is their people.  From top to bottom. 

People is also what makes a lousy company. 

So how is a good company differentiated from a lousy one?  In large part, it is open, honest, earnest and timely communication that is intended to lift their people up. 

That sounds easy, but apparently it is not.

Managers get their positions because of their past performance.  They aren’t suddenly overflowing with people skills.  They may take a class or read a book, but they were simply promoted into their position as a manager.  And leaders?  What are they?  Are they managers who have risen to the top?  No.  No way.  A leader is somebody you want to follow for any of various reasons, but mostly because of their communication skills.  A top manager who you don’t want to follow is a manager.  Or a supervisor.  Not a leader.  To have leadership skills means you have to have people who want to follow you.  Or else you are a manager. 

So, what communication skills does a leader need?  Yes, they need to be able to credibly lead meetings of their company’s staff.  It is equally important that they have good communication skills… good people skills in smaller groups and in one-on-one situations.  They need to carry the same messages to everyone and with the same degree of fairness. 

And what do they need to be saying?  Yes, they need to report on the performance of the company.  But what they really need to do is to lift their people up. 

Let’s have an example of people skills.  If a leader has heard that a staff member of theirs hasn’t performed well in this, that or the other matter, what should they do?  They should go to that person with an open mind and with patience.  Not with an agenda.  Even if this employee has given the leader a previous reason to question their performance.  People skills.  Learn them and use them. 

Culture.  People talk a lot about culture.  What is the culture of your company?  I hope that it is open, honest, earnest and timely communication that is intended to lift their people up. 

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