Empowering Teams and Leaders by Using Soft Skills to Their Fullest Potential
Hard skills may get you an interview, but soft skills will get you the job and help you keep it. Hard skills are essential for performing specific job tasks; however, it is soft skills that enable individuals to effectively communicate, collaborate, and adapt to changing work environments.
McKinsey & Company conducted a survey and found that 90% of organizations believe that soft skills are as important as, if not more important than, technical skills for driving organizational success.
The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2020 stated that by 2025, analytical thinking, innovation, and active learning will be among the top skills required by most job roles. These skills fall under the category of soft skills.
Soft skills refer to the personal attributes and characteristics that enable individuals to effectively interact with others and navigate various social and professional situations. Soft skills development is essential because it fosters effective collaboration, adaptability, problem-solving, communication, leadership, and continuous learning.
Soft Skills for Effective Teamwork
Soft skills are the building blocks of effective teamwork, where communication, collaboration, and empathy lay the foundation for success. Let us see a few ways in which soft skills contribute to successful collaboration and teamwork:
- Communication: Soft skills such as active listening, clarity in expression, and non-verbal communication enable team members to understand and convey information accurately. It fosters trust, minimizes misunderstandings, and promotes a collaborative environment.
- Collaboration and Cooperation: Team members who possess soft skills like collaboration, cooperation, and a willingness to work together skills actively contribute to group efforts, share ideas, and support one another.
- Conflict Resolution: Soft skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, and constructive feedback help team members navigate conflicts and disagreements.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: Being open to change, embracing new ideas, and adjusting to evolving circumstances contribute to the team's ability to tackle challenges and find innovative solutions together.
- Leadership and Followership: Soft skills associated with leadership and followership are essential for effective teamwork. A balance of leadership and followership fosters a collaborative and high-performing team.
- Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Soft skills related to problem-solving and decision-making enhance teamwork by allowing team members to analyse situations critically, consider various options, and make informed decisions collectively.
Soft Skills for Effective Leadership
A study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership found that soft skills account for 89% of leadership effectiveness, while technical skills contribute only 11%.
The Harvard Business Review published a study showing that CEOs with a high level of emotional intelligence, a key soft skill, had a significantly higher success rate in leadership roles compared to those with lower emotional intelligence.
These statistics highlight the importance of soft skills in effective leadership. Soft skills are essential for effective leadership because they enable leaders to connect, inspire, and motivate their teams. Let us look at a few soft skills needed for leadership enhancement:
- Effective communication and empathy allow leaders to convey their vision, expectations, and feedback effectively.
- Leaders who understand and manage their own emotions while recognizing and responding to the emotions of others can build stronger relationships, handle conflicts, and inspire loyalty and motivation in their teams.
- Soft skills enable leaders to build positive and authentic relationships with their team members. It leads to increased engagement, productivity, and retention within the team.
- Leaders who encourage teamwork, delegate tasks, and promote a collaborative culture can harness the collective skills and perspectives of their team members, leading to better problem-solving, innovation, and overall team empowerment.
- Leaders who possess these skills can analyse complex situations, evaluate multiple perspectives, make informed decisions, and guide their teams toward successful outcomes.
- Leaders who embrace change, encourage innovation, and navigate uncertainties with resilience can guide their teams through transitions and ensure continued success.
How to Develop Soft Skills in Teams and Leaders?
Microsoft has implemented initiatives like "Manager Excellence" programs, which focus on developing soft skills in their managers. These programs provide training on effective communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence – this demonstrates how organizations invest in soft skill development through various strategies and programs like:
- Training and Workshops: The training sessions focus on areas such as effective communication, teamwork, leadership, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution. These training opportunities provide employees and leaders with practical tools and techniques to improve their soft skills.
- Coaching and Mentoring: In coaching and mentoring programs, employees and leaders are paired with experienced professionals. They provide guidance and support to develop skills like goal setting, and continuous development.
- Team-building Activities: These activities range from outdoor adventures to problem-solving exercises.
- Feedback and Performance Evaluation: It provides an opportunity for leaders and team members to receive constructive feedback on their soft skills and guide them for future courses of action.
- Leadership Development Programs: These programs focus on developing essential soft skills in their leaders. These programs include modules on emotional intelligence, communication, strategic thinking, and change management, equipping leaders with the necessary skills to lead and inspire their teams.
How to Measure the Impact of Soft Skills?
Measuring the impact of soft skills is not just about quantifying outcomes, but understanding the invaluable influence they have on individual growth, team dynamics, and organizational success.
Since soft skills are subjective and intangible, measuring their impact is difficult. We can adapt the following approaches and methods to assess the impact of soft skills:
- Encourage individuals to self-assess their soft skills and reflect on their growth and development. This can be done through self-evaluation surveys, performance reviews, or personal development plans.
- A 360-degree feedback process will allow individuals to receive feedback from their peers, supervisors, subordinates, and other stakeholders. This comprehensive feedback provides multiple perspectives on an individual's soft skills and helps identify areas where improvement is needed.
- Specific performance indicators or metrics like team collaboration, customer satisfaction ratings, conflict resolution effectiveness, or employee engagement levels can indicate the impact of soft skills on performance and outcomes.
- Surveys or assessments designed to measure soft skills will help gauge the current level of soft skill proficiency within a team or organization and identify areas that need improvement.
- Case studies or success stories can demonstrate how soft skills contributed to successful outcomes, such as improved teamwork, enhanced customer satisfaction, or innovative problem-solving.
In a world where technology advances at a rapid pace, it is the timeless power of soft skills that empower individuals and organizations to connect, collaborate, and thrive in the face of change. Soft skills are vital for team empowerment and leadership enhancement. Connect with us to know about ManpowerGroup’s workforce transformation service.