The Need for Leaders Having the Soft Skills

Posted February 12th, 2011 in Leadership by admin

I’m prompted to write this note after reading a blog from the BNET site. It asks the question Should ‘Soft Skills’ be Key Executive Traits? The author speaks to this being a trend and while there is some good value in the soft skills, they are very hard to measure (especially in job interviews). I believe the author has some very valid points however I would counter that for businesses to survive in our global economy, there will continue to be a greater reliance on these soft skills.

Many organizations have a strong command and control culture that is necessary in certain instances. I’m thinking in particular of those in health care, the military and fire fighting. Their common thread is the fact that significant resources, even lives may be at stake and decisions need to be formulated quickly. In those instances of split decisions, all team members understand their role and someone is required to be in charge and make the calls.

In most instances though, this level of decision making is not required. My observation of the impact of an overused command and control management style is that it leaves many staff with a feeling of not being valued. This takes the passion out of their work lives and minimizes their potential to provide leadership. Leaders who practice the use of soft skills which include listening, visioning, empowerment, empathy, etc., create people and teams that have passion, feel empowered to move their portion of the organization forward and generate a high level of positive energy which generates upward momentum.

The great news is that soft skills and emotional intelligence can be learned. Some people have more of an abundance of it naturally however, these attributes can be acquired and nurtured. Great leadership demands working on the continuum of skills – and knowing the best tool for the situation is what great leaders master.

Where on the continuum do your skills lie? What have you done to enhance your soft skills?

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