Do You Know What a Leader Should Know?

You’ve spent your career focused on becoming fully competent … the best at your job … a true professional in your field … a worthy practitioner. You’re working your way up, and you have some higher ambitions. Just look at your resume, your work history, and the knowledge you’ve acquired!

But wait a minute. There’s something we need to ask. “Do you know what a leader should know?”

Silence. Umm?

If this question were put to you, how would you answer it? What response would you give?

There’s Only One Best Answer

You may think there’re a lot of ways to approach this question, depending on the type of work you do, the level of your present authority, or the unique challenges that face your organization at this particular moment. You might be right in part. But, in reality, there’s only one best answer. And if it doesn’t roll off of the tip of your tongue, you’re just guessing.

So What is it? What Should a Leader Know?

That’s what I set out to learn. For over a year, I asked participants in my seminars, training sessions, and team-building events the question, “What’s the One Most Important Thing a Leader Should Know?” I gathered opinions from over 400 experienced leaders and managers and came to the conclusion only one answer is sufficient.

They taught me, without a doubt, “You need to know your people!”

Not just generalizations or superficial observations, but, “Well enough to see what your people could be. Not what they are … or what they’ve been … but what they could become in the future?”

Having “real insight into people” dominated the information I gathered.

Of the top-10 aspects of leadership knowledge in my recently released “Focal Points Leadership Study,” 84% of the responses related to a leader’s need for interpersonal skills, as compared to an emphasis on business and strategic skills (16%). Now that’s significant. It speaks to the importance of relationships and how they affect a leader’s impact.

So for the upcoming months, I’m planning on discussing these findings, and encouraging you to seriously orient your development in this direction.

– Jerry Strom

Use Twitter to learn more from the Focal Points Leadership Study. Search quotes and findings by using the hashtag #FocalPointsRPT, or by following me: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’Focal Points Study: The Most Important Things a Leader Should Know,’ copyright 2014, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at .

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