Building Change Resilience - Have People Skills

Have people skills

There are lots of examples across the ages of people who ooze charm and charisma – Madiba, Princess Diana and Barrack Obama to name but a few. But are some people just naturally charismatic or can you work on it? I think you absolutely can develop your people skills and this will help strengthen your resilience to change! It’s also an essential part of building an engaging culture of leadership.

I think the movie ‘Invictus’ has great examples of how to build your people skills in ‘The Madiba Way’. What simple things did Nelson Mandela do to uplift his team and an entire nation?

My first thought is that he took time to understand what is important to people. From small every day niceties like asking how his guard’s children were doing at school, to recognising that rugby is not just a sport but a way of life for many people. Madiba embraced the culture of his enemy and won peace for a nation. How does that translate to our reality?

We all get invited to team lunches and events. Go! Take time to know your colleagues outside of their job. What is important to them – religion, children, sports, charity, art? Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to get to know your colleagues better:

  • Team lunches: On the CBT Change Team we have themed lunches every now and then. We have done Bollywood and Afrikaans so far and it has been great fun.
  • Celebrations: By recognising a range of other traditional holidays like Eid, Diwali, Pass Over, Heritage Day or Easter you learn some fun new traditions and more about other’s values
  • Ask: Or simply ask ‘What are your plans for the weekend?’
Appropriate humour is a great way to engage with people. Nelson Mandela is known for his wicked sense of humour.

People take the lead from how you act. If you walk in to a room and greet people with a big smile they will respond in the same way. Think of Madiba greeting the staff in the Presidential Office on his first day. They were scared and insecure... he put them at ease and gained their loyalty by respecting them.

Go to the grass roots and listen. There is a scene when the rugby team go and play in the townships. When you remember who you are doing something for and how they will benefit, it re-energises you. It takes you out of the small details and into the bigger picture. If you listen to the people you are serving you will find out what the real issue is and together come to the solution.

Finally, be the change you want to be. This is a famous quote from Ghandi (another great people person). The values we have as a business need to be lived every day. For example treating people with respect and acting without arrogance, translates to: 

  • Acknowledging the person who cleans your desk,
  • Getting to meetings on time or letting people know you are running late
  • Asking your team what they think about issues rather than giving your solution
Say it from the heart. Funeka’s call for us to be a caring bank really rang true to me. When you care and it comes from the heart people will respond.


Let’s get practical
Toastmasters – this association will give you the opportunity to talk about something that you are passionate about, whilst building your people  and leadership skills. There are 135 branches in South Africa, so you can easily find one near you.

Participating in a class/course – Philosophy, art classes, drama classes, cycling group, cooking classes – there are always very diverse people at these social events, who all share a common interest making it easier to connect

And some great reads
7 Habits of Highly Effective People  - by Steve R Covey
People Skills - by Robert Bolton Phd
It’s the Way You Say It: Becoming Articulate, Well Spoken & Clear - by Carol A Fleming Phd


Post your stories below of where your Personal Skills have helped you to break the ice or gain confidence

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