Feb 09 Key Soft Skills Are Hard, But Make Leadership Easier!
As a corporate consultant and coach, I work with people in diverse industries around the people-oriented leadership skills than can make them exponentially more effective in their roles. A toolkit of soft skills tailored to the demands of today’s top leaders and companies can be invaluable.
That’s true whether you use them to communicate with specialized teams; coordinate departments; foster cross-cultural collaboration between divisions; or to build and nurture strategic relationships and dynamic outside partnerships. But why can soft skills be hard to learn and what makes them so essential? Let’s explore three of the most vital soft skills that will make you a more effective and successful leader.
#1 Knowing Yourself & Others
People skills – sensitivity to the priorities of others; respect for differences of opinion and perspective; knowing how to pair up team members so that the sum of their output exceeds what they could accomplish alone; an understanding of how to motivate – these all come from first knowing yourself. If you are unsure of yourself, your executive presence is hollow. If you lack confidence, your leadership lacks credibility. If you don’t know what you want and stand for – both professionally and personally – you cannot exude gravitas. Without ridding your mindset of negative chatter, how can you convince people to stop the office gossip or to approach each day with enthusiasm? Learning your core values and how to express them is one of the most difficult soft skills to master, and it requires lifelong learning and a passion for self-improvement. But if you focus on it, that can exponentially elevate your leadership on multiple levels.
#2 Communicating with Empathy and Engagement
With that self-knowledge and mindset management you can then practice the art of solution-oriented communication, the kind that recognizes the value of every person and interaction. You develop a more natural empathy, because being honest with yourself makes you better at understanding others – even if that means reading their body language or tone of voice versus just their words. But you also become a more interested and active listener, which engages you and them. There is nothing more essential and vital to effective, clear, transparent, concise, and articulate communication than masterful active listening. Develop that skill, and learn how to speak like a leader with the ability to adapt your talk to whatever audience or topic you are covering, and you can be an exemplary role model and the face of the organizational brand and image.
#3 Panoramic Leadership Vision, Made Personal
When you have leadership awareness across the organizational grid, you can communicate in a way that connects with people on a deeper, more meaningful and inspirational level and transcends departmental or divisional barriers. You become a cross-pollinator for creative collaboration that destroys information silos while it fosters inclusive teamwork. Your perspective is just what is needed at the senior-most level to build powerful, scalable, sustained partnerships across multiple networks.
Acquire these three core soft skills and the returns will magnify your capability and leadership profile more than you can imagine. You will have risen to a rarified status as a value-adding asset to any organization, because you will have the broader vision – born of exceptional soft skills – that will professionally transform your organization. You will be defined by a genuinely authentic and personal signature touch – those incredible soft skills that may not be easy to come by, but are also very hard to find when HR departments search for that diamond amongst the unpolished leadership candidates.
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Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Deloitte, McKesson, Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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