While not necessarily easy, it is always important to develop invaluable soft skills for any job and any position. These are also essential skills to be an effective leader. Being a leader has little or nothing to do with your title and everything to do with your mind set. The term soft skills is totally inaccurate since these skills are not only the most essential skills for all leaders, but also difficult – or hard skills to implement. Leadership qualities must be developed and take practice. Thinking otherwise leads to mistaken information as well as incorrect ways to lead.
Below are a few tips to be practiced and honed. Each tip could be its own article. We have several articles posted under resources that include more information on essential leadership skills and qualities.
- Practice Effective Communication.
The ability to communicate your ideas for any audience (customers, clients, co-workers) is a critical capability in every field. Think of how you can take every opportunity to practice your communication skills and articulate your ideas, including for resolving conflicts.
- Listen – Actively Listen
Employees want to have a voice and want to feel that their voice is heard. Active listening is a crucial skill for all of us, especially leaders. While demonstrating that their voice matters and that you care, active listening doesn’t mean agreement.
- Be a Team Player.
Just about every job requires some degree of collaboration. And in cases where collaboration is not necessary, practice anyhow. Find new ways to resolve conflicts, align stakeholders, and partner with colleagues to advance your team’s or company’s goals.
- Lead and Influence.
Regardless of whether or not you have a title, you can lead and influence! Look for opportunities to voice your opinions and ideas, mentor others, and contribute to a positive work environment.
- Problem Solve.
A skill not often taught, but problem solving is necessary throughout life. Use your soft skills of collaboration, listening, communication, and influencing to brainstorm solutions and alternatives.
- Be Respectful, Kind, and Compassionate
Always remember that respect, kindness, and compassion demonstrate strength, not weakness. Decisive action is often needed but can be respectfully and inclusively handled. Ask yourself when kindness isn’t necessary? When anger ever made you feel better, more in control? Reflect on your experiences and what you have observed in others including the leaders you most admire.
In a recent HBR article, the Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer had this quote, “…great leadership is all about connecting with people by making them feel seen and heard. That means standing against all of these trends and impulses (unkindness towards those with different beliefs than ours) and instead practicing what I call “gracious communication.”
- Cultivate Self-Awareness
All of these skills require self-awareness. It is necessary to be aware of your thoughts and feelings so that you are able to respond effectively without reacting spontaneously. Self-awareness is essential to foster who we want to be in the world, including in all our roles as co-workers, leaders, partners, friends, and parents.
Please contact us for information on initiatives on how your leadership team can develop and practice leadership skills. Not only do your leaders benefit, but it enhances employee well-being, and a culture of safety. Also, Dimensions will continue to highlight these qualities and will post information from the series, “Creative Resilience: Leading in an Age of Discontinuity.”
Photo by: Christina @ wocintechchat.com