Do you have soft skills?
Most leaders who have led for any length of time know something about strategic planning, problem-solving, vision-casting, or spreadsheets. Those qualities are often considered some of the “hard skills” of leading. But what about the soft skills?
Soft skills are defined by personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
Soft skills include categories such as character traits, attitudes, and emotional intelligence. Largely, soft skills define your leadership presence.
Many leaders and employees used to ignore the “soft skills” aspect of work. Organizations would tolerate bad leadership behavior if the results were right. Not anymore.
A few months ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled, Hard to Find: Workers with Good Soft Skills. The writer, Kate Davidson, called soft skills the most sought-after skill set today. Most 21-st century organizations work collaboratively within and without. Employees must be able to work effectively in teams. Leaders must know how to lead teams. Sometimes these teams are co-located and at other times they are virtual. The need for a foundation comprised of character and a stabilizing emotional presence is critical to be able to relate well and share leadership.
According to Davidson’s article, Linkedin did a thorough analysis of what soft skills are most required today—here they are: the ability to communicate (and hold a conversation), the to ability to organize, a capacity for teamwork, punctuality, critical thinking, social savvy, creativity, and adaptability. By the way—the ability to communicate rose above all other desired traits. The article concludes by saying that the need for these skills are only going to increase—and employees are desperate for them.
Monster.com makes three recommendations for how to obtain soft skills: take a course—to gain an intellectual understanding of the skills you need, seek out mentors—on the specific skills you need to develop, and volunteer—working at or for a non-profit will always increase your soft skills experientially.