• Leaders First

The three soft skills every leader needs

We often hear the term soft skills, perhaps misused at times, but in the modern workplace, soft skills are of an ever-growing importance and subsequently it is crucial to understand what they are and how they can shape a leader. We believe one of the main themes that underlies soft skills is that of teamwork. In other words, most, if not all soft skills create a greater level of teamwork within a firm which in our eyes is a decisive factor in determining the success of a business.

As Jack Ma once said, "If we are a good team and know what we want to do, one of us can defeat ten of them.”

So what exactly are soft skills?

Soft skills are a series of personal attributes, traits and communication abilities that perhaps are best summarised under the term interpersonal skills. Their importance from our point of view is characterised by the fact that virtually any position of leadership requires some form of interaction and engagement with other members. For the above reason, here at Leaders First we thought it would be useful to compile a list of some of the most important soft skills any leader should have.

The ability to listen first, then talk.

Great listeners make great leaders. As leaders we should all be willing to understand our team and create meaningful dialogue with them. Dialogue is certainly not a one way street and it is the understanding of other perspectives that allows not only the leader to form a knowledgeable opinion but also gives the whole team greater levels of trust and cohesion.

A good leader will firstly listen to his team and then confidently give a reply. Following the words of English author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek: “There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak”. Communication not only refers to the content of what one is saying but the way in which it is delivered is also of utmost importance. A true leader will understand that different members of his team will comprehend things in different ways and will subsequently do his best to aid everyone in the comprehension of the matters at hand. Good communicators will learn to adjust their style and tone to suit different audiences whilst projecting confidence to their team and ensuring everyone gets heard.

The ability to listen first, then talk.

The ability to adapt in unforeseen circumstances.

In the words of Charles Darwin: "It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”.

The same can be said for in the world of ever-changing businesses. With immense advances in all sorts of industries, markets shift and businesses alter on a daily basis. Being able to shift viewpoint and focus to be in line with these changes is a crucial skill that every leader should strive to have.

Be flexible and adapt to changes

The ability to work in a team.

Now in our opinion, teamwork is part of a greater family of skills which focuses on relationship building. A main way to achieve a harmonious team is hidden in the art of building and maintaining a positive morale around the workplace, great leaders should not only be perceptive, but also receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others. It is also important to remember that everyone on the team should have a voice and therefore one should be able to both give and accept constructive criticism which ensures that everyone is learning from their past experiences from a variety of different viewpoints.

Perhaps the importance of team work is summed up in the words of Steve Jobs, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people.”

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs - Teambulding

Clearly the soft skills above are part of a much larger non exhaustive list however following our research successful leaders focus on the main areas or families of soft skills; the family of communication, the inner leader skill and of utmost importance, the ability to build and maintain meaningful team relationships. These aren't a series of innate skills that dictate success but rather powerful tools that one can apprehend in order to run a successful team.

After all, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price we all have to pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile” - Vince Lombardi

Filippo Musneci

Member & Contributor for Leaders First