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  • Stephen Scott Johnson

Essential Leadership – How to develop soft skills for teams

Earlier this week I caught up with a senior leader who was recently appointed as Managing Director. He’s a good human with a solid character and credentials, and no shrinking violet when it comes to making decisions. In a normal setting, this would be his “dream job” and role of a lifetime. Instead, he described the reality of assuming leadership amidst a global pandemic and the challenge of maintaining his own resilience and wellbeing, whilst keeping his organisation safe.

As an elite mentor I get to work with leaders from diverse industries. In my opinion great leadership is less about maintaining operational effectiveness and more so nurturing soft skills, such as emotional intelligence (EQ), listening, collaboration, adaptability, feedback, and confidence. Whilst high performance is crucial to the success and sustainability of any business – developing soft skills is essential leadership – because irrespective of how talented people are, when soft skills are lacking teams are prone to conflict and culture turns toxic. Notwithstanding, heightened levels of stress, fear, and uncertainty born of the Covid-19 reality demand even greater leadership awareness, agility, and accountability.

“You cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.” – Stephen Covey 

Importantly, developing soft skills is a slow process and there is no silver bullet. It requires self-reflection and a change of behaviour, rather than a change of knowledge. Hence, if you’re a leader and want to enhance culture and productivity – soft skills are the way to go (albeit requires practical application and constant reinforcement).

4 ways to develop soft skills in your team:

1. Set the tone – When leaders demonstrate that they are always learning themselves and encourage their teams to do the same, soft skills becomes part of a team’s cultural DNA, rather than a simple process or program.

2. Create a culture of mentorship – In essence, this means a culture where everyone has a mindset of helping each other to be the best version of themselves. Create an environment and tools that enable people to share their knowledge and expertise with others.

3. Measure Impact – Invest time to understand what inspires and motivates your team. Find out what individual team members are good at what gives them purpose, then align specific soft skills to enhance their growth and help them realise aspirations and goals.

4. Apply micro-learning in workflow – Developing soft skills is only part of the learning equation. By constantly reinforcing soft skills and by giving your team the ability to apply micro learnings within the context of their jobs – soft skills like listening, feedback, adaptability, and collaboration – become tangible capabilities that elevate personal and professional leadership.

Until next time,





If you found this interesting and would like to discuss, send me an emailstephen@stephenscottjohnson.com

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