7 Soft Skills That Make Managers More Effective
As AI evolves at an astonishing pace, the gap between human and machine capabilities is narrowing rapidly. But there are a handful of things that set us glamorously apart from machines. And they would, perhaps, continue to do so. Yes, I’m talking about soft skills - our ability to get emotional, creative, and set contexts, among other things.
Over the past few years, the discussion around soft skills has transformed dramatically. Unlike a decade or so ago, most hiring professionals today think that soft skills are no less important than hard skills. That means merely knowing your craft is not sufficient anymore.
As a manager or leader, you must also exhibit personality traits like emotional intelligence, communication skills, and critical thinking. In this blog post, I will discuss the most crucial soft skills managers and leaders need to foster. This post will also help you figure out how to approach soft skills training. Read on to dive deeper into a constellation of uniquely humane capabilities.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are personality traits that each human being possesses. In contrast to hard skills, they are less tangible or measurable. Unlike technical skills, you cannot ‘learn’ soft skills through a one-size-fits-all training program. Even professionals with distinguished job-specific skills might not possess the most desired soft skills.
For instance, an employee could be exceptionally good at meeting deadlines. But they might be terrible at communicating with teammates. Hard skills exhibit what you’re good at doing. Soft skills are more about how you do those things.
With the demands for ingenuity and innovation rising in the corporate world, the soft skills gap is getting more focus. Hiring leaders are increasingly focused on soft skills because they make professionals more successful in their job. People skills, communication abilities, empathy, and collaboration, are some of the most sought-after soft skills.
Essential Soft Skills for Managers & Leaders
We often think of soft skills as inherent and as part of one’s personality. But, most soft skills, including leadership ability and communication skills, can be taught. However, experts say acquiring and grooming soft skills require a more personalized and humane approach. Below are the soft skills that are most critical to effective management.
Most soft skills trainers consider communication as the No. 1 trait. For managers, effective communication is something they need all the time. Be it sending the message across during a daily huddle, or receiving clients’ feedback, communication could make or break things. As you already know, good communicators always have a significant advantage. Whether it’s about a job interview or striking a business deal, great communicators always steal the show.
As a manager, you must encourage employees and peers to share feedback about your communication. Many managers, unfortunately, avoid such practices. It’s mostly because of their aversion to criticism and complaints. And that’s an antithesis to soft skills development practices. For starters, you could just listen more carefully to what your employees say. Instead of being eager to send your message across, you need to first understand what your team needs. Careful listening helps you do exactly that.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotions can drive us more than any other thing. From our day-to-day communication to groundbreaking innovations, emotions are everywhere. Besides being central to our verbal and nonverbal communication, emotions also define what we prioritize, or ignore. For instance, whether you want to hold a meeting right now or later in the day depends on what emotions drive you.
Your ability to manage emotions in a professional setting tells a lot about you as a leader. It also helps you promptly set contexts, foster creativity, and critical thinking, among other things. Emotions are something that has proven exceptionally difficult to program into machines. That means emotions are one of the most hallmark characteristics of humans.
Collaboration, or teamwork, is critical to your managerial success. Collaborating with people on your team and across the organization is central to your work as a manager or leader. If you’re not good at it, your team will have hard time meeting deadlines and achieving goals. That’s why excelling at collaboration is so crucial to effective management.
However, the role of collaboration is not limited to successful team management alone. It’s also pivotal in making your leadership transparent and comprehensive. When you rely on teamwork to achieve higher goals, your employees, too, feel motivated to do even better. Like all other soft skills, you need to consciously nurture your collaboration skills to be a better team player.
Empathy is immensely critical to your leadership abilities. In the context of our discussion, empathy is one of the central pillars of your soft skills infrastructure.
Empathy allows you to connect with people more meaningfully. It also lets you figure out how effectively you’re reaching out to staff members. When you know how deeply or superficially you’re engaging with people, you could accurately predict the outcomes of actions. These are crucial benefits for leaders and managers. For example, in sales empathy enables you to negotiate deals. Although empathy is mostly an innate trait, people can learn it to some extent.
Adaptability is the ability to cope with changing circumstances or demands without losing your efficiency. It’s also known as flexibility. HR professionals consider adaptability is one of the top skills while hiring people. As leaders and managers, we often come across unusual circumstances. And such circumstances call for great adaptability.
Adaptability is, however, an umbrella phenomenon under which several other soft skills must flourish. It comprises your ability to learn things quickly, giving attention to detail, resilience, and staying motivated in difficult situations, among others.
6. Critical Thinking
Throughout your professional journey, you must have heard a lot about critical thinking. It’s the ability to process and analyze information objectively and make a rational judgment. Critical thinking usually involves deep evaluation of available data and facts and comes to the most realistic inference possible.
Critical thinking is closely connected with another popular soft skill: problem-solving. Regardless of what industry or job role you’re in, critical thinking plays a pivotal role in your professional ascent. More so for managers in the tech industry. That is why you need to foster your critical thinking skills if you’re not already good at it.
Dependability is your overall reputation as a leader or manager. It’s about how reliable you are. People see a dependable leader as someone upon whom they can rely, even during testing times.
Developing dependability as a soft skill requires consistent effort. For starters, you need to stop giving excuses or blaming others for unexpected outcomes. That means taking more responsibility and accountability as a manager or leader. You must also need to be extraordinarily sincere about keeping commitments. Punctuality, time management, and the willingness to walk extra miles are some other crucial factors for dependable leadership.
Why Do Managers Need Soft Skills?
The short answer is to excel in their leadership journey. As you may have understood by now, your managerial success calls for a perfect mix of these soft skills. Whether you oversee assembly lines in the automobile factory or manage projects at an AI-software company, soft skills are equally important. They make you a good communicator, an empathic leader, and a problem solver, among many other things.
Organizations that encourage their employees to foster these soft skills are likely to be innovative and more successful. You create an internal process to nurture soft skills during day-to-day operations or hire the best soft skill trainers.
Vinit Choudhary is the Founder & CEO of OrangeMantra, a leading Digital Transformation Solutions provider that caters to the technology needs of enterprises. He possesses in-depth expertise in cutting-edge technologies such as AI, Automation, ML, Big Data, and Blockchain, among others. He is also passionate about delving deeper into topics like corporate culture, soft skills, and the future of the workplace. Vinit has a flair for writing and often shares his insights on popular blogging platforms.
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