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The Importance of “Soft Skills”

How important are “soft skills” in the workplace?

In Anthony Mersino’s book, Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers, he identifies seven benefits of possessing and using soft skills; including developing relationships to support project success, avoiding emotional breakdowns, managing conflict, making better decisions, communicating more effectively, creating high morale, and casting a vision that attracts, inspires and motivates the project team.

We’ve all worked for inspiring leaders and those who may be technically proficient, but working with them is very difficult. Most of us prefer the former. And, with all of the benefits that come from developing relational skills, it’s a good bet that those are the leaders who generate superior results.

Are these inspiring leaders born or made? Fortunately, recent research is showing that anyone can improve their soft skills just as they can develop technical skills. It takes focus and a willingness to improve. There are five key elements which create inspiring leaders, according to Mersino:

SELF-AWARENESS – This requires seeking out honest feedback from others in order to develop an accurate self-assessment. Self-awareness is the root of genuine self-confidence.

SELF-MANAGEMENT – Self control must precede influencing others. Working to improve your own self awareness and self control is the best way to inspire others on your team.

SOCIAL AWARENESS – The ability to see others clearly, maintain emotional boundaries, and develop an awareness of the organization will allow you to effectively navigate it.

RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT – Developing relationships with others involves truth telling and trust-building.

TEAM LEADERSHIP – Only when you have developed these first four areas can you be truly effective as a leader who inspires others, communicates clearly, and manages conflict well.

When you have this type of leader in your organization, people will lobby hard to work for them. We all want to be inspired and be a part of building something bigger than ourselves. Leaders make that happen.