Why soft skills are vital for business success

At SalesDNA, our clients, prospects and networking acquaintances often ask what they can do to enhance the productivity of their people.  While our answers vary to suit the situation, we invariably end up talking about the skills and behaviours their people demonstrate when interacting with their clients and with each other.

It is now well recognised that success in business can be significantly enhanced by developing the interpersonal and emotional intelligence behaviours of people in key roles.  The increasing acknowledgement of these enabling traits over the last 10 years has been profound.  Less understood is the effect of limiting these learning opportunities to those in leadership positions, rather than making them available to all team members.

Research the world over demonstrates the continuing importance of soft skills – collaboration, influencing, problem solving, creativity, leadership, authenticity, communication, listening, emotional intelligence and mindfulness.  The most critical of these, communication, team working and leadership remain constant.

What’s crucial to appreciate is that the soft skills development of current leaders (and soon to be leaders) will become increasingly important over the next 10 years.  Why?  Because the generation now entering the workforce learns very differently from the traditional methods that today’s managers experienced.

Today’s generation are more likely to have learned in a “flipped” classroom approach in which short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, and/or discussions that foster creativity and emotional intelligence.  To be effective, workplace learning now needs to align more closely with this approach.

While much has been said about Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCS) as a means to provide the learning that people need (and there’s been an explosion in MOOCS over the last 5-10 years), few of these provide effective soft skills learning.

Further, a “learning” culture is infinitely more effective than a “training” culture when developing soft skills.  Most MOOCS provide information but the practical learning in soft skills and behaviours is inevitably reduced – because little interaction is involved.

Effective soft skills learning requires hands on leadership and facilitation, practical examples, practice and coaching.  And engagement with learners remains critical despite the accelerating pace of technical innovation, device addiction and millennial behavioural styles.  We need interaction with other warm blooded human beings in tandem with our e-learning experiences.

And that’s what we’re passionate about.

What it might do for your business if people in your team developed more of the soft skills that you understand are critical to business success?

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