Soft skills get a bad rap. Yet more organizations are requiring development on the softer side than ever before.
“Companies have moved away from the ‘command and control’ decision-making style. Managing day-to-day decisions takes away [leaders’] perspective and capacity to focus. Leaders must lead through others. You don’t accomplish that only with technical skills. You have to have [those skills], but to achieve the next level of success, you have to be able to lead through others,” says Marie Holmstrom, the Charlotte, N.C.-based director of talent management and organization alignment with Towers Watson.
And recent research from HBR states, “Once people reach the C-suite, technical and functional expertise matters less than leadership skills and a strong grasp of business fundamentals.” In a nutshell, soft skills.
Female Traits Are Winning
There are a lot of experts jumping on the bandwagon of the evolving leadership model. Soft skills have always been at the heart of great leadership. With the research that John Gerzema and Michael D’Antoniove published in their recent best-selling book, The Athena Doctrine, we need to take note that two-thirds of survey respondents felt that “The world would be a better place if men thought more like women.” I always associate the softer side with female traits.
However, I can’t tell you how many times I have been told I wasn’t “warm and fuzzy” enough as an HR leader. That’s insulting to say the least, as I am sure a man in a similar position would not be given that feedback.
However, I did embody loyalty and intuitiveness – both feminine traits and in the category of soft skills. I am relieved of this renewed focus on the softer side. It allows women to lead as an authentic woman, and men to exude some of their innate qualities that otherwise might stay hidden.
3 Soft Skills Needed To Become A Great Leader
Here are three soft skills every leader should be demonstrating on a daily basis to raise their game, their team’s, and their organization’s:
1. Strong Communication Skills
Whether in speaking or in writing, communicating up, down and across is always important. How you communicate is even more crucial. Those who know how to articulate their point with influence, directness, and compassion are demonstrating a real ability to raise their organization’s game.
2. Ability To Influence
In order to influence your customers, vendors, board of directors, team and other management, you need to be savvy. Influencing takes a soft touch, time to understand your audience, and the ability to bring them to your side of the table.
Yes, I put this in the top three. Humility can be defined as the quality or state of being humble; modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. In today’s environment, leading with power and authority, albeit effective at times, are going by the wayside. Leaving your ego at the door and allowing others to lead with you is paramount to the future growth of your team and organization. This, my friends, is humility.
There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about these. They’re just the softer side of the skills we all need to be a game-changing leader.
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