The Soft Skills of Leadership
Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 4, 2013
Jean Leslie, a senior fellow with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), identified ten soft skills for successful business leadership. Each one of these ten skills is taught in the LIFE business. In fact, I believe the soft skills are the difference makers in a leader’s success. Performers can get themselves to do the necessary tasks, but a leader must develop the soft skills to create a culture of success in an organization. Over the next several weeks, I will be diving into these ten skills to identify how to improve in each one. I have had a front-row seat in encouraging and mentoring many top leaders today who have worked on their soft skills. LIFE is life training for everyone to grow and become the leader he or she was called to be. Here are the ten soft skills.
1. Self-awareness: Leaders must have an accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Learning agility: This is an individual’s readiness, willingness, and ability to learn from experience.
3. Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is a constellation of abilities that help leaders deal with their emotions and the emotions of others.
4. Resiliency: Bouncing back from adversity.
5. Building relationships at all levels: Being able to show compassion, sensitivity, and a sense of humor with others—above and below in organizational structure—and being able to cultivate these relationships toward positive business performance.
6. Political savvy: The ability to influence people to obtain goals. The heart of being politically savvy, according to CCL, is networking, reading situations, and thinking before speaking. Not every leader likes politics, but it’s present in every organization.
7. Motivating and engaging others: How many leaders have been successful when they cannot motivate their teams?
8. Building and leading effective teams: This is one of the top challenges CEOs report, according to CCL. Building trust, setting strategic direction, and breaking down silos are some of the micro skills needed.
9. Creating a culture of trust and respect: This has become a big challenge since the rise of virtual communication, yet trust and respect among team members—and chiefly among leaders—is paramount.
10. Communication: Voicing goals and inspiring others is vital—but so is listening.