In today’s competitive world, everyone is striving to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd. Considering that a lot of employers believe there is a huge skill gap, this doesn’t come as surprising.
Whatever the case may be, one thing seems clear. Being mediocre isn’t enough anymore. Having knowledge in a particular area, and the willingness to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd, is seemingly necessary to get one’s foot in the career door.
This recent focus on enhancing technical skills makes one wonder about the place of soft skills in today’s world. Are they still important and valued?
My argument is yes, they do and will continue to matter. To those chasing a leadership position in their field, having soft skills are an absolute must.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the less tangible qualities we all possess. These range from traits that make up our personality, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our attitudes. Skills such as critical thinking, adaptability, and communication, all fall under the umbrella of soft skills.
Most of these skills aren’t really learned in a classroom, but through myriads of everyday experiences. It’s critical to understand that no matter how “smart” or technically proficient you are, your soft skills are what will enable you to truly utilize your knowledge and put your hard skills to use.
For example, even a very competent doctor won’t be able to keep patients unless he is able to make his patients feel comfortable and put them at ease.
Similarly, a businessman with many degrees will probably not be able to close a deal if he doesn’t have an approachable personality and isn’t able to adapt to a constantly changing business environment.
The Lack of Soft Skills
All professionals need a certain level of soft skills to succeed in their professions. According to this survey by Adecco reported on CNBC, executives are much more concerned with the lack of soft skills such as communication, adaptation, creativity and more as opposed to the lack of technical skills in the new workforce.
Communication and Adapting
For leaders, honing soft skills is of even greater importance. As a leader, you need to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently so that you are well respected within your workplace.
You also must be able to transfer the skills gained in one area to another, as leaders generally have to deal with a variety of responsibility. This is where skills such as critical thinking and adaptability play a big role.
To quote writer Charles Hugh Smith in an article about how the world of work has changed, “The only security that is attainable in fast-changing environments is the security offered by broad-based skill sets, great adaptability, a voracious appetite for new learning and a keenly developed set of “soft skills”: communication, collaboration, self-management, etc.”
This goes to show that any leader should develop soft skills, especially in a world that is constantly changing due to mass digitization.
While it pays to have a stellar resume, remember that it’s equally important to focus on the less tangible, soft skills too.
How Can Leaders Work on Soft Skills?
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