There is so much more to ”the facts”…

Recently, global leaders cited their Top 3 challenges in relation to performing to targets and objectives 1).
No. 1 – by far! – is “Culture”;
no. 2 is “Attitude”, and
no. 3 is “Building relationships”.

One key conclusion is, as a leader, you cannot afford to miss the information related to people, relations and behavior.

For some, this is bad news. I have often heard things like “Claudia, we don’t design an organization to please people, we design it to make profits!” – as though these were opposites: making sure that each employee is well placed and in a position to use his/her unique talents and drive, and making profits.
Or, “Your problem is, you listen to the team. I am interested in the facts of the project, not the people”. Bad news maybe – but “the people” are “the facts”.

Beliefs, values, attitudes, prejudices, thinking preferences… all this is, actually, facts. It is critical data and information and if we want to grow sustainable businesses, it is time that we finally decide to integrate this kind of information that we – lacking better words? – call “the soft stuff”.

”People change when they see a truth that influences their feelings,
a vivid picture of the opportunities ahead that connect to the head and the heart.
Less, when they read analysis that shifts their thinking”
John P. Kotter, Harvard

Another key conclusion is that, as a leader, you have to be able to choose your mental and physical (re-)action in any given situation.
This requires self-awareness and personal leadership; our brain will not always automatically come up with the right answer – in fact, it will often attempt to do something else – so we have to master our thinking, our mental processes, and proactively come up with the next good thing to say or do (or, not do…).

All this can be learned. Thanks to pioneers like Dudley Lynch, Daniel Kahneman, Joseph Riggio and others, the toolbox is already abundant.
Now, all we have to do is to make that decision to include “soft stuff” in our leadership information – at least on par with “hard data.”

It is critical. And it is time.

1) Shelley, Steve: “How leaders learn”, May 2014, with York St. John University.