C-Suite Advisory

Why the most effective Leaders have soft skills

According to Wikipedia, soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, mindsets, career attributes, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence.

What I have seen over my career that stands out as a critical leadership skill practiced by what I call the Top 10 percent (T10P) of leaders, is the easiest to practice – common courtesies.

Remember the common courtesies such as ‘hello’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’? This may sound funny, but because common courtesies are dying in the workplace, you will immediately stand out if you practice them. The T10P’s, no matter their gender, never forget the common courtesies.

Don’t think that by displaying the common courtesies you will be seen as weak. Perhaps this is the thought process for both women and men who have been told that in order to be a leader, you need to be tough and unapproachable. That is not leadership: that is arrogance and not a good trait of a true leader – T10Ps are not arrogant.

Good leaders understand that it is just as important to develop relationships with their staff as it is with the people they report to. Saying hello, for example, to people in the office when you arrive for the day might sound basic and may even make you feel a little uncomfortable, but it will make a big difference for such little effort.

Doesn’t it make sense to have people in your team or business see you as approachable and someone to admire, instead of fear? 

The leaders that I have seen over the years, that have good soft skills always have a finger on the pulse of their business. People in their teams feel more comfortable in letting them know if there are any issues, instead of sweeping them under the carpet. Employees also feel they can speak up with new ideas and make suggestions.

In addition, the leaders with good soft skills build good reputations. This means people want to work for them. A good reputation enables the business to obtain good talent as well as retaining existing talent. One way of telling if a manager has good soft skills ‘or not’ is by looking at their staff turnover record. Is there a revolving door? Are there any long-term staff members?

If you don’t have good soft skills, you may not know, what you ‘should know’ to run your business to an optimum level. Staff may not like you, and therefore you may only get half the story.

Sometimes I wonder whether we are so locked into technology that we are forgetting to connect with the people who are in front of us and part of our team. Don’t be one of these people. Good leaders know that technology will never replace real relationships. They know that developing their soft skills will be good for them, their staff, and the company. Let’s not forget that staff could also be customers or future customers, and in the future, a staff member may even become your boss.

Written by Judith Beck. Have you read?

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Judith Beck
Judith Beck is the author of No Sex at Work (Major Street Publishing), which shares the do’s and don’ts from her experience as founder of executive search firm, Financial Recruitment Group. Over her career, Judith has successfully placed thousands of candidates at senior to managing director level with some of Australia’s most successful financial institutions. Judith also founded Financial Executive Women (FEW) and is a sought-after speaker and media commentator. Judith Beck is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.