Soft skills, as a term, gets a bad rap. Rather than a Lao Tzu-type of understanding that, “What is soft is strong,” (think of the nature of water, for example), many people take ‘soft’ in this context to mean easy, fluffy, inconsequential.
But let’s say that you’re okay with the idea that soft skills are powerful, and you believe that they’re now crucial life and business skills.
However, there’s another ‘soft’ misunderstanding you might come across: having soft skills means you’re ‘nice’.
Or to put it another way: if you’re not being nice you don’t have good soft skills.
The truth is this…
If you’ve got great soft skills
you’re going to make some people
as mad as hell!
“If that’s the case,” you might be wondering, “why would any leader want to develop their employees’ soft skills?”
(And you might think I’ve just put Barrier Breakers’ rosy future into a noose!)
Well, here’s the thing…
There’s an increasing amount of research dedicated to soft skills. And findings are consistent: soft skills are essential at this time, yet employers find them lacking in recruits at every level.
If soft skills are so important, why are they lacking?
Why aren’t they being taught in schools?
Or in universities and business schools?
Why aren’t they prioritised in every organisation’s staff training?
Developing our soft skills will make us better at working with others, at being innovative, at being productive, engaged and happy at work…
But hold on…
There’s another side to soft skills development.
It’s a side that’s rarely mentioned.
And it could be a turn off for some leaders.
- As we develop self confidence we become less compliant
- As we become better communicators we speak up for ourselves and others
- As we flex our independent judgement we become more questioning of authority
- As we learn to listen well we hear with less naivety and more perspicacity.
Soft skills are likely to turn us into people who see injustice and dare to speak out about it; who follow others less willingly; who are self-motivated; who expect integrity from leaders; who have the maturity to anticipate resistance to change and the resilience to take it on.
Soft-skilled people are not always nice!
The most successful leaders now (and those we work with at Barrier Breakers – so no nooses here!) are aware of the other side of soft skills, and aren’t deterred by it.
In fact, they welcome it.
They know that by developing soft skills and releasing the best in their people they’ll get the best for their organisation.
And they know that soft isn’t always nice!
Would you like to build up your organisation’s soft skills – and boost employee engagement, performance, and the bottom line?
Get in touch and find out how we can support you!
If you like this post, join our newsletter for regular soft skills insights.