Soft Skills DO NOT make a soft person.
In the past a great leader or manager was seen as tough, intelligent, experienced and well qualified which is why those who possessed a lot of soft skills were often seen as ‘soft managers’. Now we know that’s just not the case. Managers need to be more than tough and smart, they also need to be emotionally intelligent. In fact, if you read up on the work done by David Goleman (the man who introduced us to the modern concept of emotional intelligence) did in his research of 200 large, global companies, he found that truly effective leaders who achieved measurable results all had a healthy dose of emotional intelligence. Other managers who were smart, qualified and experienced were no where near as effective in their leadership roles if they didn’t have emotional intelligence as well.
You can read more about his work here: Emotional intelligence – The Most Important Leadership Skill
Soft skills have a huge impact on a persons overall emotional intelligence. Soft skills affect how you interact with and relate to your co workers, team members and customers and can have a huge impact on the outcomes you are able to produce.
In fact, no matter what type of leadership style you utilise, you still need to compliment it with a healthy set of soft skills.
Read up on all the different leadership styles here: 6 Leadership Styles – Which One Are You?
So, which soft skills really matter? Are they the same for everyone or do managers and leaders need a specific set of soft skill?
The truth is there are a core set of 7 soft skills that are highly desired by recruiters and employers. You can look over that list here – 7 Soft Skills You Need to Get Hired. There are also a smaller set of soft skills that are critical for anyone in a managerial or leadership role.
The soft skills are:
1. Communication Skills
Every manager needs to be a highly effective communicator both in terms of their verbal and written communications. Direct, succinct communication provides clear direction and avoids misunderstanding and confusion in terms of the work process. Managers also need to communicate effectively on a personal level with their team members, peers and customers to ensure a positive work environment is maintained and morale and motivation remain high.
2. Strategic Thinking
Managers must be able to problem solve and look at the bigger picture. It is their role to set out the vision and communicate it clearly to their team. they must also be able to step back from the day to day problems and look at why they are coming up before they implement any steps for solving them.
- 10 Behavioural Interview Questions About Problem Solving
- 3 Problem Solving Strategies You Need to be Aware of
3. Influencing others
There are numerous ways you can influence others around you. You can yell at them and bully them into doing what you want or you can take the time to understand what motivates them and use that to guide them into desirable actions. Obviously the second one is the winner, and those with high levels of self awareness, self regulation and empathy find this an easy way to manage behaviour. As a manager you simply must be able to influence others and you can only do this by being a good listener, having empathy and a high level of emotional intelligence.
4. Mentoring and Coaching
Employees who feel valued and are motivated are by far the most productive employees in any organisation. it is your role as a manager to motivate, mentor and guide your team every day. You need to adjust your management style to suit each persons needs, take the time to provide support and feedback and off course listen to what your team members have to say. These skills make a great mentor who in turn is the best kind of manager.
5. Organisation and Time Management
You can not effectively manage others if you cannot manage yourself which is why time management and basic organisation skills are critical soft skills for any leader. If you feel you are lacking in this are there are many time management courses which teach you the basics about working in a organised fashion.