Leveraging the soft skills of yourself and your team

When we think of leadership skills, it’s easy to think of the classics: decision making, strategic thinking, planning, change management, communication and people management.

Business is changing. Gone are the traditional business structures and management hierarchies. Modern business is flatter, more innovative and dynamic. Whereas leaders with strong technical skills thrived in classical management structures, today it’s essential leaders show well-developed soft skills for business success.

On our LEAD21 Level 3 and Level 5 ILM courses, we expose managers and aspiring managers to both hard and soft skills, core to the development of the modern business leader.

Why are soft skills important?

Nurturing soft skills benefits both leaders and businesses, and is essential to any organisation’s commitment to building a meaningful culture.

Here are some ways a commitment to developing soft skills can improve outcomes for businesses:

  • It increases profits. Investing in soft skill development of leaders and teams will build a company that can not only manage change but flourish under it. By effectively navigating uncertain periods, companies can innovate and increase their profit generation.
  • It increases productivity. Organisations that invest in flourishing these skills create a healthy and profitable performance culture where staff are adept at participating fully in projects. Whether that’s listening, canvassing support for their projects or showing appreciation, staff are equipped to build and maintain constructive relationships with colleagues and clients, resulting in better work productivity.
  • It boosts staff retention. Businesses made up of people with well-developed soft skills retain their staff for longer, cutting the recruitment and training costs associated with a high turnover of staff.

There are lots of positives for staff as well. It’s generally accepted that investing in soft skills builds the resilience of leaders and their teams. Put simply, a leader with a well-rounded skillset is more likely to secure career success. The benefits are not only seen in the workplace: people with mature social skills also tend to be successful at home and socially.

What are soft skills?

There isn’t a set definition of what makes a soft skill, however it’s generally accepted to include the following characteristics or traits:

  • Self-motivation
  • Positivity
  • Negotiation
  • Problem solving
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional resilience
  • Interpersonal skills.

Whereas hard skills (also known as technical skills) are learnable abilities that are easily defined and measured, soft skills are qualities or attributes that are picked up in life and work experiences. Hard skills tend to be specialised to a sector or job role, for example a degree or data analysis, soft skills are in demand across all industries and sectors.

Soft skills v hard skills

When it comes to recruiting new staff or building an internal team, leaders need to be equipped to look for the right combination of soft skills and hard, technical skills. On the LEAD21 course, participants learn how to look for soft skills in their team or recruits.

For example, a potential new recruit might be technically qualified for a role but it’s important to assess whether they have the soft skills to work well within a team and manage productive relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

Developing your soft skills

On our LEAD21 course, leaders are challenged to assess their own soft skill development as well as facilitating the development of their team.

Participants are exposed to a variety of theory and methods, but can expect their attitudes in the following areas to be challenged: communication, teamwork, creativity, response to criticism, positivity, multi-tasking, adaptability and listening.

When it comes to developing the soft skills on their team, leaders and aspiring leaders will have the opportunity to reflect on: how they recruit for soft skills and build teams; whether their project management style allows soft skills to flourish; how to encourage their team to develop skills in communication and persuasiveness; and how to recognise and work with different personality traits.

Take the LEAD 21 ILM course

Depending on what stage of management our participants are, one aspect of our courses includes practical guidance to assess and maximise the soft skills within themselves and across their team. Aspiring managers and team leaders can take the Level 3 ILM course, and more experienced leaders, including senior leaders, will benefit from our Level 5 ILM course. Learn more