Hard technical skills and expertise are essential to success in almost any industry. However, the value of soft skills should not be underestimated. Soft skills are the personal skills that do not involve technical knowledge or experience in a specialized field. These are the abilities that are crucial to success in working with others, which will pay dividends throughout a leader’s career in any area. In this article, Michael Evan Salley identifies eight of the soft skills professionals need most.
Effective communication is at the top of the list for vital soft skills. People base their relationship with you around your written and verbal communication techniques and abilities. Your team members need to understand the details of every project you develop to know what you are thinking and what your expectations are. Spend time working on your writing skills and try out some public speaking training to improve your communication skills.
Always remember that every great plan you develop is going to need countless modifications to be successful. Remain open to the necessity of change, even to long-standing policies and procedures when it is clear that new methods are needed. Being adaptable and proactive gives every team member good cause to be confident in your ability to lead your organization through shifting conditions.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Continuous awareness of your emotional state and the emotions of others around you gives you the ability to guide decisions when handling stressful situations. In modern businesses that involve tight deadlines and multitasking, emotional awareness is critical in managing moment-to-moment events. Emotional awareness is contagious, and effective leaders demonstrate their ability to deal with emotions constructively.
4. Active Listening
Everyone notices when you make an effort to listen to your team members. If a member of your organization needs your attention, look away from the computer and put down the phone. Simple eye contact and focus will make the most of the time you spend listening and will enhance your ability to lead others effectively. When your team members know that you hear what they are saying, they will be more invested in whatever action you take in response.
5. Intellectual Curiosity
Successful leadership in the modern business world requires that you maintain the mindset of a willing student at all times. When you involve others in your desire to learn new techniques and information, they will follow your lead and fully demonstrate their creative ability. If you allow yourself to stagnate and coast in your daily journey, your organization will run aground with you. Be inquisitive and ask engaging questions every day.
Maintaining perspective and placing issues in their proper context will assist you in ignoring irrelevant matters and focusing on the things that matter. Your team members will always notice the things that you find important. If your company is facing a significant issue while you are obsessing over minor details, your team’s performance will suffer.
7. Work Ethic
A strong work ethic is a skill that makes an unmistakable impression on your organization. When you drive to work effectively and succeed, your will to win and the required commitment will be reflected in your team. This skill cannot simply be developed in every person; however, every leader should be intensely aware of how their work ethic appears to subordinates.
8. Conflict Resolution
Every organization must deal with internal and external conflicts. Human nature dictates that there will be rivalries and competition between group members over things that are sometimes important and sometimes mundane. Regardless of the nature of any conflict, your skill at diffusing tension and finding a peaceful resolution will keep your company’s focus on its mission and moving forward. Leaders can usually be effective mediators given their authoritative position. The key to resolution is open communication and encouraging participation by all involved parties in reaching an agreement and understanding for moving forward.