My Top 6 Soft Skills for Leaders

I am presently working with an amazing inspirational client who is reminding me that it is not always the complex strategic “stuff” that make us a better leader. Sometimes, it is getting back to the basics and the more simple characteristics that can be so effective.

Why are the soft skills so often over looked or not given the weight that they deserve? I think firstly because they are difficult to systemize and automate, they can be very difficult to measure. Often if we are unable to quantify something we dismiss its value and effectiveness. It’s easy to say whose an amazing accountant or architect. Its difficult to measure who is best at innovation, diplomacy or leadership. There are well over 80 soft skills that can assist leadership roles. Here’s my top 6 soft skills for leaders.

1. HUMOUR – I’m purposefully putting this first in my list, as so often its overlooked or put as an afterthought and yet it can be so powerful when used correctly. Bring humour back into the workplace. Humour can be so effective and can be used very cleverly within the workspace. Use it to break ice or calm a possible tense situation. Remember to use it wisely and when appropriate. Be tactful in the timing. If humour seems to be too excessive an option try a smile for starters. Make it a habit to smile, it costs nothing and the benefits can be huge.

2. FLEXIBLE & ADAPTABLE – Have the ability to be flexible and open-minded. Good leaders
are able to adapt to forever changing circumstances and at the same time remain calm and in
control. We work in a very fast paced environment and the more we learn to be flexible the
greater our chances are of keeping up with this pace. If you insist on one path and don’t adapt
you may find yourself being left behind, companies often request that we wear more
than one hat and have the ability to change them without much pre-warning.

3. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE – these are a constellation of abilities that take into account
both your own emotional skills and the ability to read the emotions of others. It factors in such
skills as your level of empathy for self and others, self-awareness, tolerance, communication
and curiosity to name a few.

4. PROBLEM SOLVING & CRITICAL THINKING – having the ability to think on your feet, assess
problems and find solutions. Being able to think critically and creatively is a huge asset to any
organisation adding new perspective and insight into a situation within a given time frame can
save a company valuable time and money.

5. TIME MANAGEMENT & DELEGATION it is imperative that as we progress up the ladder to
more senior roles we learn the art of time management and delegation. Most of my clients that
hold positions of seniority have learnt that micro management can be a massive time waster
and that delegation not only empowers your team but also increases their own skills base.
Delegation silently tells your team, that I trust and believe in you.

6. DECISION MAKING – suffering from Analysis Paralysis (the inability to make a decision through
fear of making the wrong one) can be more harmful than making the wrong decision. The
simple beauty of making a calculated decision is that you will sooner or later learn whether it
is correct or not. Making no decision at all can have a negative ripple effect down through the
ranks, effecting the general confidence of your team, with themselves and of you as the leader.

6 Soft Skills for Leaders.

“In a high IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding”. Daniel Coleman