An Introduction to Soft Skills for Leadership for Agile Teams
There are certain soft skills for leadership that will get you ahead of the curve.
On that note, we cannot deny that possessing the prerequisite technical and “hard” skills will land you the job that you are applying for -- and even allow you to go further in your career.
But some of these skills, such as; communication, critical thinking, and work ethic will also help you get ahead. In fact, many recruiters are now giving soft skills much more important for a variety of reasons.
We have listed the best soft skills for leadership that you should focus on and develop to get you ahead. But before we do that it is important to understand what soft skills are exactly.
What are Soft Skills for Leadership?
Soft skills refer to the behaviors you exhibit in diverse conditions, rather than the knowledge you have as displayed by “hard skills" or technical skills.
Any personality skill or trait you possess can often be described as a soft skill.
Almost all types of soft skills can fall under one of five broad types of soft skills, these skills are:
- Work Ethic
Why Soft Skills for Leadership are Important?
Any type of interaction you may have with different people requires you to possess certain soft skills.
Whether in your personal life or at work we all use soft skills every day. In the workplace working on these soft skills can help gain more business and accelerate your career advancement.
While honing your soft skills will also benefit your personal life, developing different soft skills will definitely aid your career. Soft skills can help you deliver projects, make connections, and find solutions to issues.
Are There Any Benefits to Honing Soft Skills for Leadership?
There are multiple reasons why you should keep working on developing your soft skills. Let’s look into some of the benefits you will find in doing so in your work life.
1. Promotion & Progression in Your Career
Research by iCIMS found that 58% of recruiters believe that soft skills are of more importance for senior-level positions as compared to entry-level positions.
Furthermore, the research highlighted that 94% of recruiters believed that employees possessing stronger soft skills were more likely to be promoted to a leadership position compared to those who had weaker soft skills although they had more years’ worth of experience.
Showing you possess soft skills will help in your career, these skills will set you apart in interviews, and while you are performing jobs.
2. Soft Skills Aid in Interactions with Clients & Customers
The way you interact with potential clients will not only be the differentiating factor between yourself and other businesses, thus allowing you to gain new clients. Interactions using soft skills will also allow you to maintain the clients you already have.
With the technology available today and the competition in all fields, clients have multiple options available to them of who to go to, to get their work done. It is the human touch that will set you apart from others.
3. Automation Is Correlated to Soft Skills
There is a boom in technology and the advancement is vast. With automation and artificial intelligence being on the rise, you will be required to hold the human elements of business and these include having soft skills.
Soft skills are hard to automate. Emotional intelligence, at least for now, is not part of automation that is present.
And it is reasons like this that soft skills are still in high demand by recruiters.
Important Soft Skills for Leadership in Agile Teams
Now that we know what soft skills are and why they are important for you to develop, let’s look into two of the soft skills you need to give extra importance and attention to leadership roles.
#1 Communication Skills
Arguably, good communication skills are one of the top soft skills you as an employee, and more importantly you as a leader can possess.
Good communication skills allow you as a leader to efficiently and effectively manage your teams.
Moreover, as we mentioned previously, communication skills as a soft skill allow you to have the upper hand in convincing clients to choose your company.
Furthermore, with good communication skills, you are also able to retain the clients you have. For example, if a project is delayed for any reason, being able to communicate with your client effectively will allow you to defuse any tension and deliver the project to them successfully.
Nowadays with companies expanding, teams are often large and sometimes located in different offices. As a leader in today’s day and age, you need to be able to convey these communication skills to these new situations. However, with communication tools, this has become easier.
Additionally, with good communication skills should come good listening skills. This is a two-point package and anyone with good communication should also be a good listener.
Listening to your team members’ ideas gives them a sense of engagement, this in turn allows them to be more proactive and your company’s culture becomes one of comfort for them. Ultimately, this can be a deciding factor for whether an employee will stay with your company or not.
Moreover, hearing your team members’ concerns, and actually listening to them creates a safe and comfortable environment, this often allows workers to feel less stress. Less stress in the workplace makes it more productive and also drastically reduces absences, increasing the overall success and progress of the company.
Listening is also a big part of empathy. Empathy is another great soft skill to possess and showcase. Listening and empathy allow the trust to be created. Trust in a team motivates members to work extra hard. Knowing that you are trusted gives a sense of responsibility which translates to efficiency and added effort being put in my employees.
Likewise, an employees’ loyalty will only be given to leaders who can demonstrate a sense of empathy and those leaders that can actually show they care about the well-being and concerns of their teams.
#2 Growth Mindset
Psychologist Carol Dweck came up with the term “growth mindset”. She coined the term to refer to a state of thinking which reflects seeing your talents, and intelligence as skills that are improvable and can grow.
A growth mindset is when, rather than seeing hurdles or obstacles, you see challenges to overcome through work pressures you feel.
“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.” - Carol Dweck
As a leader, you need to see your failures and figure out what you can learn from them. How you can make amendments and do better, and how to motivate your team to do the same.
If, as a leader, every time you face failure you believe this is just something you cannot manage, you will not get any work done. You will also discourage your team members and overall productivity will go down.
With a growth mindset, you will be motivated to do better and reach higher achievements. This will also encourage you to learn new skills, as you believe that there is always room for improvement and knowledge.
Possessing a growth mindset means you possess an ability to continuously learn and adapt to change. And with different team members, and clients all possessing different personalities and asking for different goals to be met, this is essential.
In order to thrive in a work setting, you need to be able to adapt to your surroundings to be able to meet your goals. This includes both when you begin at a new place and also when you are climbing up the career ladder.
Now Get Out There
Now that you are aware of which soft skills will get you ahead, make sure you try and give them the importance and highlight them in interviews.
Not only highlight your soft skills but when wanting to progress in your career try and develop your soft skills to give you that upper hand. Also, make sure you take the help of your peers, maybe ask for feedback after you have meetings or once you finish projects.
Know the type of leader you want to be and work towards it by incorporating these soft skills.