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All Leaders Need 2 Key Skill Sets

Sam Bacharach, co-founder of Bacharach Leadership Group, explains why effective leaders must have both political and managerial competence.

Video Transcript

00:10 Samuel Bacharach: The moment we begin to discuss leadership in terms of skills, we're already giving people a sense of ownership of it, and that's very important to them. We have this notion in our society sometimes that leaders are special brands, a special group of characters, but the moment we're talking about the skills of leadership and take the word "skills" seriously, we're beginning to say something else. We're beginning to say that we can actually train people to do something. So let's for a moment ask ourselves what are we really talking about in terms of the skills? If it's the case that we want leaders to be able to mobilize people, then one of the things they have to know is how to negotiate. Day in day out leaders have to negotiate. They have to develop a certain degree of political competence. They have to be able to understand the agendas of others. They have to understand how to articulate the agendas. They have to know how to sell their ideas. How to get the buy-in. They have to know how to create exchanges. So leaders really have to develop these sort of micro-political skills that allow them to be smart about their agendas, getting people to join their agendas.

01:13 Bacharach: So these sort of micro skills, negotiations, buy-in, be able to reach out to people, to have exchange with people, to be able to be empathetic to people, a whole group of micro-skills that we talked about political competence. And then once you mobilize people, you've got to have some managerial skills. And I love this, people go, "Oh managerial skills, well that's not leading." Well, come on folks, what do you want, a leader that doesn't manage or a manager doesn't lead? They exist, they co-exist. You mobilize your people, now you gotta manage that team to go the distance. You gotta know how to give feedback. You've got to know how to coach and enhance your people. You've gotta know how to create the culture that they need, how to do an evaluation. So, in a nut shell I think leaders need two sets of skills: Political competence to mobilize people around ideas, and managerial competence to be able to go the distance.

Last updated: Dec 11, 2013

SAMUEL B. BACHARACH | Columnist | Director, Cornell's Institute of Workplace Studies

Samuel B. Bacharach is the McKelvey-Grant professor in the department of organizational behavior at Cornell University's ILR School, and is director of Cornell's Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. Among his books are Get Them on Your Side and Keep Them on Your Side. His latest volume, A Good Idea Is Not Enough: Leading for Change and Innovation, will be published this November by BLG.

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