OUR WORK AND WIDER RESEARCH PROVED THAT SOFTER SKILLS HAVE BECOME AS CRITICAL TO LEADERSHIP SUCCESS AS THE HARDER SKILLS OF CAPABILITY AND COMPETENCE .
The reason is simple : strong leadership and engagement in today ’ s workplace relies on the ability to build relationships and understand employees – wherever they may be . Future leaders will therefore need be equipped with a core set of soft skills if they ’ re to survive and thrive in the long term .
These include :
The ability to listen – authentically . Many leaders excel at communicating in ‘ broadcast ’ mode , but those best positioned to lead in the long-term have switched into listening mode . Showing that you take seriously the views of your colleagues , peers , direct reports or your most frontline employees leaves a huge and lasting impression and encourages longterm engagement .
One of our CEO clients in the financial services sector has exemplified this , spending a great deal of time speaking directly to frontline employees over the past 18 month , and running frequent surveys to understand employees ’ concerns and frustrations – allowing them to make rapid adjustments to working processes in direct response .
Communication and clarity . Don ’ t forget the power of simple and direct . A lack of authentic communication is the biggest underlying factor in the lack of trust in leaders . Be open , even about hard truths , and be prepared to say when you don ’ t have all the answers .
Honesty and transparency . Being totally open and honest is the key to retaining trust and commitment . You may be asking people to do things differently in the future , such as the way they work , and you may be asking them to do things for different reasons .
Being honest about why is much more likely to bring people with you .
Looking after your people . It ’ s critical to remember your people are individuals . Organisations spend millions of dollars segmenting their customer base externally , yet internally they tend to treat employees as one amorphous lump . Smart leaders recognise that their individual team members have their own strengths , needs and concerns and motivate and communicate accordingly .
Empathy . This is one of the most attractive qualities a leader can have . It builds positive relationships and produces more effective collaboration . And empathy breeds empathy . Leaders with strong empathy are over five times more likely to have teams working under them who demonstrate the same quality to other stakeholder groups – their own teams , customers and other teams within the business .
Humility . Leaders need to be able to make mistakes and change direction while maintaining trust and confidence . The best leaders are willing to learn and keep learning , regardless of status .
This shows that even at the most senior level individuals can be educated . The message to employees is clear : great leaders are adaptable , open and willing to embrace new ideas . This approach is vital for innovation and growth .
Managing performance in the moment . Recognition is one of the most powerful drivers of engagement and productivity . People want feedback on how they ’ re doing , good or bad . Telling people they did a great job scores much higher than reward .
Dr Andy Brown , CEO , ENGAGE
Managing poor performance ‘ in the moment ’ is equally crucial . Immediate feedback tends to be
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