When you hear the word, “leader”, what image immediately springs to mind? Many people commonly see a picture of someone that they personally know and believe is determined and driven. Often this person is perceived as an inflexible, unfeeling, dominating force that actively pursues success and will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, regardless of the cost to themselves or others.
In the past, this stereotypical vision of the” hard-nosed” business executive was the image that was expected of leaders. Today, after years of research, concrete statistics, and trial and error, more business professionals are becoming aware of the importance of developing soft skills, or emotional intelligence, in order to successfully lead people and companies.
What Are Soft Skills and Why Do They Matter?
Soft skills are simply a set of human relation skills that enable us to connect, empathise and communicate well with others. They are a critical skill set for leaders in today’s business world as it is all but impossible to lead, educate, train, motivate, inspire and guide others without these skills.
What’s Your E.Q.?
There is an old saying that still rings true today; “it’s nice to be intelligent, but it’s intelligent to be nice”. Just as reading and working problems can build what is thought of as traditional “I.Q.”, there are skills that you can hone that will build the collection of soft skills that make up your E.Q, or emotional intelligence.
Clear, honest and open communication is crucial to ensuring that your people understand your vision and values as well as your goals for your team. Building rapport and team spirit takes time, and the first step begins with making sure that your people are free to come to you and share their concerns as well as their best ideas and feedback on how to improve processes and service. Communication occurs primarily in three forms: written and verbal, as well as body language. Make certain that all forms of your communication send a clear message that conveys direction and guidance as well as warmth and kindness.
• Empathise with Genuine Concern
In order to properly lead your team, you must be able to connect with them on an individual level. Taking the time to show concern for your employees and getting to know who they are as people helps you to have a clearer picture on each team member’s strengths and what challenges they may be facing both on and off the job. By ensuring that your people have everything that they need to do the job, you make it easier for them to do their job as efficiently and effectively as possible; your service and revenue levels will reflect this. People are not robots. While it’s important to remain professional, you do want your people to relate to you on a personal level so that they are working with you and for you, rather than against you.
No one enjoys working with or being around someone who is a fake. Most of us can spot a phony a mile away, so make an effort to be upfront and honest with your people and ensure that your actions back up your words. Whenever and wherever possible, look for opportunities to lead your people by example and give them good behaviour to model. Being honest with your employees will help to build trust which will allow you greater influence and the ability to inspire collaboration and cooperation among your team.
One flaw that has been at the heart of many a failed career is arrogance. No one likes to work with someone who acts as though they know everything and are so superior that others are beneath their notice. As you achieve your goals and experience success with your team, ensure that you continue to practice your other soft skills and keep communication open, as well as remain involved and honest with your people. Learn to check your ego at the door, and remain modest and gracious as you help others to rise along the ranks with you. And openly praise and acknowledge great ideas, hard work and effort from your people. Remaining humble will help strengthen the bonds and connections between you and your team members and help you to increase the strength of your organisation so that together, you achieve even greater success.
Don’t panic if you find that you need to brush up on some of your soft skills. With coaching and training most of us can learn how to embrace our softer side and use it to help ourselves and others achieve more. Why not contact us today to learn how we can help you improve your soft skills and raise your E.Q.?