People Skills: Part 1

Welcome to part 1 of a 2 part blog from one of our excellent staff members, Nick Kagy.

I’d like to talk to you about people. I’ve always loved people, but I haven’t always valued people. I’ve always enjoyed watching people and studying their habits. Sometimes to a level that could be considered border-line weird. When I was younger and texting had just become popular as a mainstream way of communication I used to text wrong numbers repeatedly just to see how people would respond to different things. Thankfully I don’t have as much time on my hands. It wasn’t until I became a young professional that I learned to value people. So I wanted to tell you 4 truths about people I’ve learned in my twenties:

People are a business’s most appreciating asset.

When you invest in a car, it immediately depreciates in value. When you invest in a building, you have a chance that you might not get a return on your investment – plus you deal with cost of maintaining it. However, when you (truly) invest in people, they becoming your most appreciating asset. There’s a Chinese proverb that says:

“If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”

A leader’s most important asset is people skills.

The thing about being a leader is, anyone can be promoted. Most people don’t stay in leadership if they don’t have people skills. I used to think people skills were training people to do a task and resource them. I learned from multiple failures that people skills were about showing how much you care about them personally just as much as professionally.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming
really interested in other people than you can in two years by
trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another
way of saying to make a friend is to be one”
– Dale Carnegie


A good leader can lead various groups, because leadership is about people.

I had the hardest time grasping the idea that leadership had 20% to do with my role, and 80% to do with the people on my team. It wasn’t until I took a big promotion one time, and I was a TYRANT of a boss, and my entire team quit on me that it hit me. I begged for grace from my team, but would never show them grace. I had a great boss who showed me grace, and helped me bring my team back on and I spent a whole summer earning trust of my employees.

Then that fall I was asked to take another role, and I walked into my new title with the mentality that this new team was people who worked with me, not for me. It changed my entire life as a leader. When I valued these people as smarter than I and cared about them my whole world changed.

“I made progress by having people around who
are smarter than I am and listening to them.
And I assume that everyone is smarter about
something than I am.”
– Henry J. Kaiser

You can have people skills and not be a good leader, but you cannot be a good leader without people skills.

It’s funny how much we think the two are interchangeable. Think back to all of your bosses, leaders, teachers, etc… You can think of one who was really bad. Hold that thought. Now think of one who effected your life the most. I’m sure there are lots of differences between the two – but I’m willing to bet at least one of those differences is their level of developed people skills. People are going to pay a lot of attention to what you do over what you say – they’re so used to people coming in and talking. You can lead people by modeling the way. As a boss this is hard because sometimes you just want people to “get it done” and take initiative. Trust me, as you invest in people and build those relationships they’ll anticipate the needs of the team and the business if you model the way for them.

“The less you speak, the more you will hear”
– Alexander Solshenitsen

Check back in with us next week for Part 2 of this series!

Click in the comments below to share your leadership suggestions!


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