Inability to influence.
Managers spend more than half their time influencing other people would be my guesstimate. Some time to do own work and some unproductive time etc. but the bulk of productive time is spent influencing people. The difference between a good manager and a poor one is directly correlated to their ability to influence others.
Failure is usually a result of an inability to influence – especially an inability to exert upward influence. It is something we learnt as children, but many of us lose the knack for making people with more power do the stuff we want them, or rather need them to do.
The psychology of influence is fascinating. But few make the effort to study it considering it is the cornerstone of our managerial success. I know I was guilty – even though I have a few Psych credits – and just took my ability to influence for granted. Now, being ion the business of increasing productivity through people, I have made a renewed effort to understand it, and I am amazed about how stupid I was; and in hindsight, most of my colleagues.
The skill to influence is different from corporate politicking, and different from power plays. Influencing skills is simply a sophisticated form of manipulation – as is every sales process, every manager/employee interaction, every meeting…
Once your eyes are opened to it, you will be amazed at what goes on around you. And my advice is simple: get good or fail.