During an After Action Review (AAR) with a client recently, the subject of soft skills came up and it’s been bothering me ever since. Why? Because it’s one of the greatest misnomers in business.
‘Soft’ is not the same as ‘easy’ and, in our experience, these skills are neither ‘easy’ nor commonplace, but are extremely valuable and essential for peak performance in any team or organisation. Have you heard the term “culture eats strategy for breakfast?” I need say no more….
Soft skills are arguably some of the most valuable traits and behaviours, which can take many years and much effort to master. Far more so, perhaps, than some so-called ‘hard skills’ taught in a more conventional classroom environment. Yet people persist in referring to them as soft, the implication being that they are somehow acquired more easily and are therefore insignificant and unimportant or even less valuable by comparison.
You may wonder why this matters.
Terminology counts because it sends a wider message and influences perception throughout organisations. In business, this also means it can and does affect decisions, commitment level and participation. It is often also detrimental to crucial areas such as investment, especially, in our experience, with less confident leaders.
We have seen how budget-holders can dismiss the need for financial investment if they suspect that it will be spent on soft skills. In a corporate environment where soft skills aren’t valued, employees may also consider them less desirable. After all, why bother developing such abilities if senior managers dismiss or ignore them?
Worst of all, it’s precisely those organisations where soft skills aren’t valued that they are most often needed!
In our experience, investment in the ‘soft skills’ of personal development, leadership and teamwork are proven to accelerate growth and underpin business, team and individual success. It also boosts employee engagement and retention.
Our mentoring and team facilitation programmes are precisely tailored to build and enhance invaluable ‘soft’ skills. Helping our clients to communicate and collaborate better, develop trust, solve problems and exceed expectations is the engine of their performance excellence. These skills are rare and create exceptional leaders.
They may be thought of as soft, but the results produced by these nuanced, finely-tuned skills are hard evidence of success.
In my view, it’s high time that soft skills got a rebrand, to ensure their corporate capital is truly reflected in their name. What do you think?
After all, iTS Leadership!