Why soft skills lie at the core of successful leadership

Submitted by Mark on 08th September 2021

Softskills, leadership, HR, employees, employment, management, business, emotional intelligence

Your leadership philosophy and the way you approach leadership will have a massive impact on how effectively you lead. Your unique leadership style will be instrumental in determining your ability to develop new skills amongst the individuals in your team.

In turn, the effectiveness of your leadership style will play a large part in the success of your organisation. 

Traditional leadership skills, such as leading by example, delegation, communication and strategic thinking, all have their place and they are all based on a set of soft skills or ‘meta-skills’.

What are meta-skills?
A meta-skill is a higher-order skill that magnifies and activates other skills. It’s a catalyst for learning and building new skills.

Meta-skills encompass concepts such as emotional intelligence, people skills, self-awareness and intuition that determine how traditional technical skills are applied. You could look at it this way. Technical skills are the day-to-day levers that manage teams. Meta-skills are knowing when and how to use them.

Meta-skills also include humility, composure and empathy. They’re the kind of skills that give team members the confidence to push through problems and challenges.

Emotional intelligence in leadership – why it matters
The purpose of meta-skills is to build an environment in which teams and individuals develop trust and rapport and can thrive through increased engagement, better problem-solving and productivity.
Emotional intelligence equips leaders with the ability to create an inclusive environment based on respect that helps instil confidence and improve performance.

Eliminating barriers - the key to building purpose within teams
Traditionally, attitudes towards leadership have been based on the idea of imposing discipline and motivating team members. But today, a more considered approach advocates leadership through leading by example, building self-discipline and encouraging self-motivation. Other elements include being approachable, sometimes playful and displaying humour. This kind of management style can help to break down unhelpful hierarchical barriers between leaders and their workforce.

By bringing teams closer together emotionally and reducing outdated structures, the result is a single cohesive culture that works together positively and drives success.

Constructively feeding back – leadership at its best
Your professional journey doesn’t end when you reach a leadership role. There’s a concept called ‘deep democracy’ - a vital meta-skill that involves interacting with and learning from feedback to continue to grow as both a leader and a colleague. Not all feedback may seem entirely true or fair, but most will carry some truth.

It’s a question of balance - remaining open to honest feedback whilst understanding the truth that underpins it. This is known as the ‘2% truth rule’. It encourages leaders to display soft skills such as empathy, listening and good communication in order to get to the root of feedback and judge whether action is needed as a result.

Why we should all prioritise cultivating our soft skills
How effective you are as a leader will significantly affect the resilience, productivity and cohesiveness of your team. Learning how to cultivate essential soft skills that will inspire confidence and generate trust can revolutionise performance. If your team is confident and works in a trusting and mutually collaborative environment, it will be more likely to take measured risks, to fail positively and to learn lessons that lead to better ideas and practices.

Specialist HR advice
Effective leadership is core to the success of your business. Find out more about the role of leadership in your organisation. For specialist leadership advice and support, talk to us. We’re always here to help.
For straight-talking HR advice - 01604 763494
Or email - info@GravitasHR.co.uk