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Mirror, Mirror What kind of image do you project to your staff?

By Robert J. McGarvey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Would you work for an arrogant and cold boss who aloofly keeps his or her distance? Of course not--and neither will your employees, at least not for long, and never at top effectiveness.

Are you that boss? Don't be too quick to scoff. "Most entrepreneurs dramatically overestimate their people skills," says Frank Shipper, a business professor at Salisbury State University in Salisbury, Maryland. That overconfidence can be a fatal business flaw. "The entrepreneurs who get ahead are those with good people skills. But many falter due to simple, people-related issues," warns Shipper, whose research pinpoints arrogance and coldness as common problems. "People skills are much more important than most of us realize."

"Lack of people skills is a real problem faced by many entrepreneurs," agrees David Goldsmith, an Orlando, Florida, management coach. The problem often sneaks up on you, Goldsmith adds: "The difficulties often don't show up at first. With a staff of two or three--people the entrepreneur may have known for a long time--his or her skills may be adequate. But as the business grows, difficulties arise. By the time the tenth employee is hired, the business may be heading for trouble, precisely because many entrepreneurs lack the basic people skills good managers need."

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