Who is it that can tell me who I am?
“Soft Skills”: DNA to Success
What factors generate and sustain high performance? Superior performance is said to be dependent on how well an individual handles himself and others in the workplace. Soft skills are becoming more and more indispensable not only in the context of organizational excellence, but also for individuals to lead a successful life.
‘Soft Skills’: What Do They Mean?
Each one of us is endowed with two kinds of skills: hard
skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the academic and practical skills that individuals learn in schools and universities. They constitute the professional competency of an individual. Soft skills are social skills such as interpersonal skills, and personal values that define a person’s ability to fit into a given structure.
Important soft skills include personality traits such as:
Eagerness to learn Willingness to share one’s knowledge with others
Flexibility to new ideas
Keenness to collaborate with the peers Empathy Futuristic thinking Decision-making
Important soft skills include personality traits such as: (Contd…)
Creativity/Innovation Leadership Problem solving Diplomacy
Importance of Soft Skills
As one realizes the significance of the relationship between
people and the values that they bring to their workplaces and the organizational performance, the importance of soft skills turns out to be crucial. It is an individual’s mastery over soft skills that is today differentiating success from mediocrity in working relationships, particularly in a team environment. In a nutshell, soft skills can make us more sensitive in becoming a human being as a whole, a true human being, a social individual.
In the organizational context, executive effectiveness is not defined solely by technical expertise or the ability to memorize and reproduce technical specifications. It is measured more by the ability to motivate an organization, to assess the performance of their staff, to make informed decisions, projecting vision for the organization, etc.
Let us now take a critical look at some of the important soft skills that need to be nurtured in organizations:
Expressed Leadership Taking Charge of Themselves Good Listening Managing Disappointments Coaching Colleagues
Relationships are the essence of life. The people one chooses
to spend time with reveal what kind of life one wants to lead and one’s place in the world. People endowed with better interpersonal skills build healthy relationships by ensuring mutual commitment, open and frequent communication, and clear agreements as to how they should go about the relationship. They ought to draw a line of clear demarcation about the mutual expectations, so that it becomes easy to resolve conflicts and overcome obstacles.
Modern management pundits define leaders as persons
who can energize their groups, encourage initiative and know how to draw the best from each member for the common good of the organization. Leaders draw the fullest potential out of each group member by not only persuading them to follow them, but also by educating, training and inspiring them through articulation of the cause at repeated intervals so that the group on its own volition follows them and works for the organization’s objectives.
Taking Charge of Themselves
Normally, people with an ‘internal locus’ of control simply
believe that whatever happens in life is mostly out of their own doing. They are at ease in accepting the fact that at times bad things happen for no fault of theirs. They are also quick in attempting to erase or reverse the ‘fall-out’ of such bad situations. Similarly, they also accept that sometimes good things just fall in their lap from nowhere. Whenever such things happen they do make the best use of them. Thus they believe that they are the masters of themselves.
Unless a manager listens to his employees’ problems,
he/she cannot understand the motives behind their behavior. Similarly, unless one listens to every team member’s feelings about the problem under discussion, he/she cannot generate team consensus. To listen and acknowledge what others say is often perceived as a simple act, but doing it well is quite daunting, more so when disagreements creep into the conversation. As with any other skill, listening well calls for a lot of practice.
In the organizational context, disappointment manifests itself
in the form of delayed/denied promotions/ appreciations/ rewards etc. A disappointed person could either trigger a cycle of ‘frustration’ or a cycle of ‘hope’. A cycle of frustration entails adaptive deterioration, isolation, distorted perception and defensive behavior leading to neglect of work and general deterioration in the standard of performance.
People endowed with a natural flair for being positive,
analyze the situation with greater objectivity. They adopt the “learning from mistakes” approach which is likely to cause less havoc from disappointments: neither alienation nor rebellion; neither complaint nor abdication, nor even helpless anger. This facilitates handling of any situation with finesse.
Today, helping others succeed is perceived to be a major path
for both organizational success and personal success. People endowed with this skill tend to set expectations in the minds of the people whom they are going to coach, so that they could use it as a benchmark to measure their success. They demonstrate the potency of the skill being imparted through their own practice since people are known to retain more when they ‘see’ the skills in usage than when they simply hear about them.
Mere possession of soft skills does not guarantee success unless one practices them with integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, simplicity and modesty. It is the possession of these qualities that primarily strengthens an individual’s ability to influence the team members’ behavior in a positive way.
The golden rule for successful use of soft skills is: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Thank You