Hard skills are more tangible and easily qualified. For these reasons, many professionals end up focusing on developing their hard skills over their soft skills, which are centered around their ability to communicate, their ability to connect with the people around them, and their emotional intelligence levels.
A leader’s hard skills are often what are taught and developed in school. Not only because they’re easier to teach, but because they’re more easily understood by aspiring business owners. A person’s hard skills can also be analyzed and measured up against their performance to reveal what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Soft skills, however, are much harder to teach. Some might argue that there are certain soft skills that are completely unteachable altogether. During a difficult period, it becomes evident when a leader is lacking in soft skills. While you can tell where the gaps are, soft skills just don’t come as naturally to some leaders. Nonetheless, it’s important that you continue to strengthen these skills if you want to grow your business. Below are some of the most important soft skills every leader should have:
This is a key soft skill because it encompasses so much. Emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware, self-regulated, motivated, empathetic, and possess innate social skills. Are you in tune — and in control — of your emotions when you’re at work? Can you successfully cultivate positive relationships with your employees? Can you empathize with their problems? Are you able to give constructive criticism while, at the same time, receiving constructive feedback from your team? Growing your business is more than just being a visionary or being able to make important decisions under pressure, it’s about connecting with your team and growing with them as you all work to grow the business.
When people think of creativity as a soft skill, they tend to think of it as a trait that leaders only need when they’re in a creative industry (graphic design, art, etc.), but that’s not true. Creativity is necessary regardless of what industry you’re in and is critical within every role at an organization. Creative-minded individuals approach situations from a different perspective, which can lead to new ideas and innovative solutions that solve for problems that could prevent your company from growing.
As a leader, you need to be able to communicate effectively. This may sound like an obvious strength to have, but there is more to communication than just being able to interact with another person or to successfully give a presentation in front of a group of people. In order to be a strong communicator, you must also be a good listener. The two aren’t interchangeable.
Change is the only constant we can depend on, which means a strong leader must be able to roll with the punches at any given moment. From a small adjustment to a company-wide change, a leader can never remain stagnant. The business world is constantly evolving, and you must be willing to evolve with it or else you won’t survive in the dog-eat-dog market.
Hard skills will only get you so far, which is why it’s important to continue honing in on your soft skills. The combination of the two will propel you and your business forward.