"First Commandment of Leadership: Know Yourself." (Harvard Business Review)
Every time I hear someone talk about the current crisis, only the same idea comes to mind; it is time for a new opportunity. In Western culture, the term "crisis" is the meaning of "new opportunity." And for this new opportunity, we need to embrace the concept of soft skills.
The reality is that soft skills are nothing more than a set of skills that allow much more accelerated personal and professional development. Today, organizations focused on achieving true competitive advantage recognize their value. On the other hand, "hard" skills can be learned and are necessary to perform activities correctly, but the importance of soft skills corresponds to the fact that they are part of the personal attributes that help people to interact effectively with others.
For an organization to be effective in its strategic plan to transform its organizational culture, it needs teams that embrace soft skills. As an organization we are moving into a world of digital transformation, we need our teams to show the least level of resistance to these changes. This is where soft skills emerge as the main actor. To spread our new strategy, we need allies with the necessary skills to not only persuade change but also need those same teams to take responsibility for reconciling potential differences that may arise as part of a process of resistance to change.
In this brief reflection, I would just like to focus on four of these skills and how each of them can support us in our cultural transformation project. I start with one of the main skills, "communication." When we talk about communication, it is important to understand that for this to be an effective process, both the sender and the receiver or receivers must master the art of communicating. To convey a revolutionary or novel concept, we need to know what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and to whom to say it. For the process to take place, we need in the same way that those to whom we are sending the message are open to the process of listening. One that is very different from the simple process of hearing.
It is through communication that we will be able to develop that ability to listen with interest. Through communication, we will be able to complete important negotiation, persuasion, and presentation processes. The concept of "Storytelling" has recently emerged. This ability is nothing other than the ability to capture the attention of the audience and take them through a great story to know the essence of our strategic plans and their current result.
“Remember that it is not enough to say the right thing in the right place; it is still better to think about not saying the wrong thing at a tempting moment”. (Benjamin Franklin)
Another soft skill is “critical thinking” ability. Whether you are working with data, teaching students, or fixing a home heating system, you must be able to understand problems, think critically, and come up with solutions. Skills related to critical thinking include creativity, flexibility, and curiosity, among others.
Through critical thinking, we can work with the adaptability processes of our teams. Our communication skills will support us in the areas of persuasion, resistance control, and conflict management, but through critical analysis, we make use of our artistic skills and our creativity to implement our new strategies in an innovative way.
The critical analysis also contributes to the development of our critical observation skills, which in turn can lead to the development of skills in logical thinking and problem-solving. But without a doubt, the greatest advantage that the development of critical analysis gives us is the capacity for flexibility. As part of the fundamental elements in project management, flexibility plays a crucial role since it allows us to develop an ability to see other viable alternatives at the same time.
Responsibility towards oneself means refusing to let others think, speak and name for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; therefore, dealing with hard work”. (Adrienne Rich)
Another of the fundamental elements in soft skills is leadership. While not all positions require a leadership role, most employers are interested in knowing that you could make decisions when it comes to a hurry and that you can handle situations and people. The ability to step up into a difficult situation and help resolve it is something employers look for in potential employees.
Leadership gives way to better conflict management and the power to reach a resolution of those conflicts more expeditiously and based on the well-being of all the members of our organization. Leaders not only delegate and facilitate tasks, but true leaders also recognize the powerful value of feedback and serving as an inspiration to others who dream of reaching a leadership position. Leading organizations recognize the value of leaders and often use them to support mentoring and training.
“A good leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes them where they don't necessarily want to go, but they should be”. (Rosalynn Carter)
Finally, soft skills promote positive attitudes. Antonio Calvo said; "They hire us for what we know and fire us for who we really are." In other words, "They hire us for our skills, but they fire us for our attitudes." Our attitude will undoubtedly be totally decisive to achieve greater development of soft skills.
Those who have an excellent command of their attitudes will be able to lead transformation projects within our organization because they will be able to develop in the team a higher level of trust, cooperation, energy, enthusiasm, patience, respect, responsibility, and honesty.
“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of thoughts, events, and results. It is a catalyst and unleashes extraordinary results." (Wade Boggs)
This is an excellent time to recognize the power of soft skills. It is an excellent opportunity to use each one of them to achieve the realization of the organizational cultural transformation that we are looking for. It is an excellent time to mix all those hard skills that we have been developing over the past years and mix them with the soft skills that we have also developed until now. This may be the perfect key to being successful soon.