If you look at the way Corporate America is today, many executives and business leaders have no clue or understand very little about what soft-skills really are. Why is that? Well, let’s look at something interesting such as the term leadership and see if we can relate it to why soft-skills is so difficult for many business owners to understand.
At the end of 2015, there were over 57,000 books listed on Amazon which contained the word Leadership in the title. If ever you wanted to ask the question why, this would be the perfect time. Larocci (2015) provides 5 main reasons why there are so many books that involve leadership.
People simply like to offer an opinion
Readers have different tastes
Practically everyone can publish a leadership book
Leadership is constantly evolving
No limitations as to the way leadership is described
And that’s just the beginning. In reality, it’s not hard to imagine why business owners, leaders and even executives cannot fully agree on what leadership actually is. That being the case, it’s no surprise that these same leaders can often be confused with the term soft-skills and whether or not they play a role in human capital. When it comes to the operation of a business, most people are in the dark when it comes down to the stuff that makes a business function. In simple terms, it’s people.
What are soft-skills
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of soft-skills are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Another definition is given by Dr. Maree Harris, Ph.D., where she describes in her book, Soft Skills – The Hard Stuff Of Success, suggests soft skills as being “the skills we use to develop, change, re-shape or enhance our personality, behavior, attitudes and mindset so we can achieve the outcomes we want in our professional (and personal) lives.” (Harris, 2012).
Consider this, management, human resources, presentation, sales, marketing, project management, business development, administration, finance, accounting, and some forms of communication, just to name a few are not soft-skills. These are more hard-skills that relate to specific functions or jobs, which makes them more technical or performance skills. If you think otherwise, then you and your organization are probably dealing with a number of issues and challenges in the marketplace.
What is the value of soft-skills
Simply put, soft-skills help develop and promote a better working environment. As a business owner or leader, you want to surround yourself with people who set an example and fit in well with your present organization. Let’s face it, conflict can be a major issue among fellow employees and any individual who might be prone to conflict could ultimately cause a reduction in productivity. Even worse, situations such as this could also cause financial loss and interruption with your brand awareness.
Years ago when hiring, managers put an emphasis on hard skills as it was the major difference during the hiring process of entry level workers. However, a poll conducted by Instructure signals a significant change which is happening now. According to the study, managers have changed their positions and now rank soft-skills such as attitude and work ethics as the most important aspect for hiring entry level candidates. The data even placed soft-skills in front of experience and educational success (Weber, 2015).
The bottom-line here, soft-skills simply relate to personal skills. These are skills which help to make better people, and when it comes to running your business, better functioning employees means higher productivity. If individuals feel better about themselves and the people around them, they will also be open to the opportunity of learning, accepting direction, and advancing in their job or career.
Remember, if a person needs a certain skill to perform a job, then it probably falls under the heading of technical or performance skills. However, if it relates to something which will help make a person better, it’s probably more of a soft-skill.
Harris, M. (2012). Soft skills – the hard stuff of success: 8 key insights. Ballarat, Vic.: People Empowered.
Larocci, J. (2015). Why are there so many leadership books? Here are 5 reasons. Cairnway. Retrieved from https://serveleadnow.com/why-are-there-so-many-leadership-books/
Oxford Dictionaries – Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/ definition of soft skills
Weber, J. (2015). What employers really want from millennials. Instructure. Retrieved from https://blog.getbridge.com/what-employers-really-want-from-millennials-bridge