“Even turkeys can fly in a strong wind”.
Isn’t that a great comment? I heard it the other day from someone talking about the true measure of leadership. When things are going well and the “wind” is blowing strong, even the very average person can fly high and lead reasonably well. It is, however when there is little or no “wind” as there is at present, that the true leader emerges, the one who can fly high against all odds, using his/her own resources.
These are the leaders whose soft skills are as well-developed as their technical or hard skills. They also have a good balance between their soft skills and hard skills. These are the kinds of exceptional leaders we need in challenging times.
So What Really Are Soft Skills?
They are the people skills, social skills and interpersonal skills that, when well-developed, enhance the quality of our relationships with people.
They are reflected in our personality, attitudes and behaviour.They are the intangible, difficult to measure skills whose existence, nevertheless, impacts significantly on our personal and professional development and on the culture of our organisation.
They are the skills related to self-development, self-management and self-awareness.
What Then are Hard Skills?
These are the technical skills that relate to our specific profession or industry group, for example, engineering or accountancy skills, IT skills, building and construction skills or skills reading financial reports.
They are the tangible and measurable skills of the profession or business that enable us to do out job and produce results and outcomes.They are the skills in which people can be trained.
Why Are Soft Skills So Important For Leadership?
Leaders lead people. They need to be able to bring out the very best in their people so they can put that talent at the disposal of the organisation and their own career development. They therefore need to really understand their people well. They need to be insightful and intuitive and be able to tap into the motivations and aspirations of their people. They need to know what makes them tick, what stresses them and what they need to do as leaders to engage their loyalty and commitment.
They need to know how to inspire them to commit to the organisation’s vision and make it a reality. They need to be genuine and people of integrity because their people will see through them if they attempt to manipulate them.
These are all the skills you didn’t get taught in your professional or vocational training courses. They are the people skills, the interpersonal and communication skills that see exceptional leaders stay on top, be resilient and manage the change in these challenging times and inspire their people to do the same.
At the moment, leaders are challenged. Many businesses have their backs to the wall and there are high levels of stress in leaders and managers of companies. This can easily flow through to employees and before you know it the entire organisation is living the provisional life, doing nothing, just waiting to see what happens, not taking any risks and living on the edge. The diagnosis: “Business has drastically slowed”. Much of the problem has been led from the top and the lack of soft skills at the leadership of the organisation to create a more robust and resilient culture.
We have 8 essential soft skills that we believe will enhance leadership in these changing and challenging times. They are:
1. Self-awareness, that ability to reflect on and know ourselves, become conscious of our own leadership style and how it impacts on those we lead.Being in tune with ourselves is a necessary pre-requisite for being in tune with our employees.
2. Resilience, that capacity to bounce back from any adversity, to not get stuck and to move forward positively and constructively.
3. Emotional Maturity and Intelligence, that awareness of how our emotions impact on the way we think, behave and react and how the way we manage them can either enhance our relationships with our people or be very destructive of them.
4. Pro-activity, that positive, empowering mind-set that allows us to take responsibility for shaping our lives and our work, rather than merely reacting to what happens to us in a negative and disempowering way.
5. Embracing Change, that capacity to work with change, rather than be threatened by it.
6. Making Connections, that commitment to grow and develop our careers through building relationships and networking.
7. Engaging People, that knowing how to give feedback; how to motivate, inspire, empower, value and appreciate people; engage loyalty and commitment; constructively manage conflict and difficult people; communicate effectively; coach and mentor.
8. Self-management Skills, that capacity to manage time and stress effectively and to develop good work-life balance.
If leaders have these 8 skills they will manage and inspire their people to greatness. It has never been more important for leaders to look after their people because if they do their people will look after their organisations.
These 8 soft skills for leadership are the skills that will help leaders do just that.