Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 33 – Soft Skills Ignorance

25th January 2021

Dear Leaders,

This week you will be likely starting to arrange Q2 planning with your departments and understanding where you have landed and where you need to step up and improve.

Throughout leaders letters, there has been three main themes leadership, company culture and developing out your team through training, values and principles.

This week I want to offer some advice on tackling “soft skill ignorance”. This is an important part of my mission to fix the broken world of work.
Soft skills are typically elements within a business you cannot put a direct revenue figure on from spreadsheet management.

Soft Skills typically considered are:

  • Time management
  • Networking
  • Teamwork
  • Team building
  • Creative thinking
  • Conflict
  • Problem-solving
  • Work ethic
  • Communication.

Many of these soft skills would be classified under company culture, historically c-suite members have struggled to assign a pound or dollar amount to these skills. In more recent times these skills have been clearly called out and many tools are attempting to assign a revenue value to these.

Be a leader – Address the problem top-down

I have sat in leadership team meetings when culture was always an agenda point but there was a fear by many others on how to address this.

HiPPO’s are often the worst at understanding the importance of company culture and it impacts on organisational health.

I have advised companies where culture is something they knew was an issue but took a true leader to go first and call out the issue they were experiencing and come forward as part of the problem.

There are many times as a leadership team, you have to step forward, call out poor behaviour and address the elephant in the room head-on.

The problem for many businesses, there is still an ignorance on how company culture impacts bottom line and many execs do not want to or do not know how to look at soft skills.

How to tackle soft skill ignorance:

If you sit on a leadership team or part of a management team the easiest way to address soft skill ignorance is to first call out how bad your company culture and how it is impacting your business. Data points and examples of these are important but applying a framework will help for the rest of the management or leadership team to apply the same methodology.
By showing the data, you can show how your teams or departments are struggling from an output perspective and how you will have to work harder as a leader to address and bring the departments together cross-functionally.

You can use many matrixes to guide you in mapping these out, one that has worked for me previously: map out in columns: (a) happiness, (b) performance and (c) output mapped out by (rows) person by scoring 1 (low) to 10 (high) and as a team provides you with an easy to follow score and average.

When there is a conflict you can add this into the scoring matrix by team and department and apply cross-functionally.

Throughout large projects or products being rolling out performance will fluctuate, when the performance takes a dip you will likely see some respond positively and others respond with fear and performance anxiety if you are keeping track and on top of 1:2:1’s you will likely see this reflected in individuals, in teams and then departments.

By reviewing scoring as a leadership team and having open and frank conversations you will be more on top of soft skills, you will be more attuned to what is happening with your business and in places to tackle these issues reducing the performance anxiety, the friction and the conflict happening within your business.

This is just one blended method of tackling soft skills, you may have an org that needs management teams to be made aware of issues or act ignorantly, happily forward this letter them or send my email address to help you address this toxic management trait.

Have a good week thinking about how you could roll this or something similar out within your businesses and as ever let me know if there is something I can help you and your business with.


Danny Denhard

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 11 – Bad HiPPOs

Bad HiPPOs‍


Dear Leaders,

I trust you had a refreshing weekend.

I know from speaking to a number of leaders recently they felt like August used to be the slow period but August 2020 has been unrelenting. With this, there is a lot of onus on leadership teams.

Unfortunately, there are many management teams that are top-down or CEO/founder lead aka led by a HiPPO (a reminder a HiPPO is “highest-paid person’s opinion” or the “highest-paid person in the office.”).

There are many people within organisations that suggest they do not know why they are asked to do the work that they are or the way they “have to” work as the boss told them to do it or do it this way.

I have worked in organisations where the most senior by title feels like they have to make the decisions and they want to be seen to lead so they refuse to listen, these organisations fail for many reasons but one of the main long term reasons they fail is HiPPO’s acting like this.
They kill the business by their actions.  This inspired me to break down the ten (yes ten) HiPPO’s that are ruining your business.

I recommend you review the 10 HiPPO’s and hopefully find out you are not one of them. I highly suggest you look out for if you are “The This Is My Way HiPPO” or “The Dominant” as you are likely killing morale.

As a bit of fun I recommend sharing this post to your leadership team and wait for feedback, if you do not receive any, you are likely one of the ten.

This week focus on: Connecting with your team, understand if they believe they are a HiPPO and how they are impacting your business. Consider how you can delegate more effectively and if there are decision-making frameworks you can introduce to take the onus off you and improve trust across the business.

If you need some HiPPO training or you need management team training, happily reach out by replying to this email or emailing here by clicking here

Thanks and have a great HiPPO free week,

PS I have written two important posts, traits of a good manager, and the traits of a bad manager.