Leaders are often propelled forward or held back based on their mastery of "soft" skills. Soft skills, like self-awareness, resilience, interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, and selling skills, are fuzzy and change with the situation. Making them more challenging to learn than "hard" or technical skills.
Soft skills are not new, they used to be called character. Things like honesty, trustworthiness, patience, courtesy, self-control, perseverance, and resilience. The ways we treat others, like showing kindness, compassion, grace, humility, and generosity. These are all soft skills and character traits that the Bible extols (I Peter 3:8-9, 2 Peter 1:5-9).
As I coach leaders, they rarely need coaching about their technical expertise. More commonly, I coach on soft skills. Competency in technical skills is not often accompanied by competency in a wide range of soft skills. This is one reason that highly skilled teachers, accountants, or engineers can make terrible managers of others.
Soft skills can't be learned in school, except perhaps the school of life. Here are three soft skills everyone needs and a few questions to stimulate your thinking.
Knowing your motivations, drives, hot buttons, and links to your emotions. Knowing these can help you better control your responses.
- What motivates or demotivates me?
- What things arouse anger or frustration in me?
The ability to communicate in such a way that your intended meaning comes across to others. This is tougher than it sounds!
- To what extent have I listened to and understood others first?
- How do I need to adjust my tone, posture, words, timing, or message to be better understood?
The ability to work with people with different skills, motivations, and personalities. This is the culmination of soft skills, and why real teamwork is so elusive.
- Reflect on Philippians 2:1-4 in light of your team.
- In what ways am I perceived by others? Am I see as honest, trustworthy, courteous, and hard-working?
- How do I treat others? Am I accepting, gracious, honoring, kind, loving, and thinking of others before myself?
Given how critical soft skills are, what are you going to do to grow in them? How about coaching others in them?