By Etheline Desir | Desir Group | LeadershipBrief.com
Last month, we shared the importance of “soft skills.” As a follow-up, this month we offer seven valuable soft leadership skills that can set you apart. These tips were found in Resourceful Manager, a website dedicated to helping leaders become more effective at their jobs.
1. Be Flexible and Adaptable to Changes
Employees will often look to their leaders during times of change for reassurance, guidance, and a sense of stability. Tip: Give employees the opportunity to share their thoughts, focus on the positive, and remain available to answer questions.
2. Communicate Effectively and Show Good Manners
People who are polite stand out and are well liked. Not only do good manners help cement positive relationships with employees, they also set an example for the rest of the team to follow. Tip: Always use people’s names when speaking to them, show interest in their lives, express appreciation and recognize contributions, make your colleagues feel important, and be sure to say “please” and “thank you”. We are told that words have just a 7% impact on the listener’s interpretation, while body language has a 55% impact.
3. Delegate to Leave Room for Strategy and Urgencies
While delegation may seem like a simple task, it actually requires a great deal of finesse and people skills to motivate employees to do the work and get it done effectively. Tip: Make goals clear and be specific about the expected results; lay out challenges and discuss obstacles employees may face and offer available resources.
4. Recognize and Verbally Praise Good Work
The best leaders are adept at expressing recognition beyond a simple pat on the back. Tip: Recognize people for different types of accomplishments, celebrate good work at meetings where others can congratulate them, and make the praise personal.
5. Seek to Find Winning Solutions when Negotiating
Most leaders are negotiating throughout the day — with the medical staff, patients and their families, employees, and with friends and family. The most successful negotiators remain fair and considerate of others to seek win-win outcomes. Tip: Look at the situation through the other person’s eyes. Be prepared to offer several options when possible, show that you’ve heard and understand the other side, and offer to help out in some way to demonstrate that you are a team player.
6. Be Decisive in Handling the Bad Apples that can Jeopardize Workplace Harmony
Leaders must know how to deal with these employees, especially because others will judge the leader based on how he or she handles the situation. Tip: Tackle the problem as soon as possible; use documented information when pointing out unacceptable behavior, implement a plan for correcting the behavior, and follow up often to ensure the positive change is permanent.
7. Demonstrate Active Listening
Give the speaker your undivided attention and use positive body language and gestures to show that you are engaged. Take notes, reserve judgment, provide feedback, and be open to opinions that are different than yours.
Remember that hard skills are taught, learned and quantifiable. Recruiters look for hard skills on your resume to gauge how well you will be able to perform job duties. Soft skills, on the other hand, are people-related attributes. As you move up the corporate ladder, greater emphasis is placed on executive soft skills as they are what make you an effective decision maker and leader.
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