Today’s Leaders Need Soft Skills

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The new normal, if there is such a thing, is all about the workforce, the client and the consumer – they want to know you have their best interests at heart. They are bombarded daily with an information tsunami via electronic communications but the one thing they lack: personal connections.

It can be argued that they are always connected but the reality is they are constantly in contact but never connected. And, even their contacts are seldom long term. So for them the new normal is constant change, but change has always been the normal. It is the light-speed of change today that makes it seem different.

The new normal is about creating an attraction environment and using an unseen flow of power to connect, not just be another contact. This new connecting normal requires leaders to upgrade their skill set utilizing only 10 to 20 percent technical skills and 80 to 90 percent people or soft skills.

Patricia A. Wheeler, Ph.D., a senior partner at The Levin Group, LLC, in Healthcare Executive magazine said, “Studies say 90 percent of executive failures are attributable to interpersonal competencies—factors such as leading teams, developing a positive work environment, retaining staff, inspiring trust, and coping with change. The message is clear—if you’re going to excel as a leader in any industry, you must master the ‘soft’ skills.”

The study further showed that when these skills were missing it all too often lead to miscommunication, feelings of alienation and disengagement in the workforce and client relations.

Improve Your Connecting Flow of Power

The principles of connecting are transferable from event to event, business to client; it is only the application that changes. Once you understand the basic principles of connecting, the only thing that changes is how you apply them in different situations and circumstances. The soft skills that create a flow of power and focus are: listening, body language, conversational communications and tying benefits to needs and wants.

Listen attentively. Stop interrupting and finishing others’ sentences and listen. When Native Americans hold a council meeting they use a “talking stick” to make sure each council member has an opportunity to share their “sacred views.” Only the council member holding the stick is allowed to speak, unless he calls on someone. Only when he is finished and has passed the talking stick on, can the next person speak. Listening
is considered such an important skill in their culture that it was taught to children beginning at age three.

Don’t just hear, listen and put yourself into the speaker’s shoes before speaking. Ask meaningful questions and reframe what he said to make sure you understand what he is saying. When the speaker realizes you understand his perspective he will be more open to listening to what you are saying or selling.

Be body-language savvy. Your body language is like the single picture that tells a better story than a thousand words. Crossed arms, glaring looks, hands on hips and a defiant attitude create a hostile close-minded response from your listener. These characteristics send the message that it’s all about you. Adopt an open relaxed position with an empathetic or a slight smile on your face. Your body language speaks a thousand words before you even open your mouth. Be sure you are communicating the message you want.

Communicate conversationally. Use simple, easy-to-understand words to say what you mean but be sure to mean what you say. Empty words and promises ring hollow. Simplicity and clarity are king and queen in communications flow of power. Use the language of your audience no matter who it is at the time; workforce, board of directors, client or consumer.

Technical jargon should only be used with the technocrats. Pretend you are talking with a longtime friend over a morning cup of coffee; it provides the perfect example of conversational communications. Talk with your clients and workforce rather than lecturing and pontificating. Have them play back what they’ve heard to create a powerful flow of communication. Once that is accomplished, the results will substantially increase.

Tie benefits to needs and wants. The phrases, “tell me more” and “let’s talk about it” should be at the top of your list when trying to understand the needs and wants of your workforce and clients. It must be all about them in order to create a receptive environment for your information and ideas to be accepted. When you provide them benefits to meet their needs and wants they will be receptive to what you are asking of or selling to them.

The principles of the flow of power are always the same; it is only the applications that change depending on your audience. If you neglect these principles, by default you relinquish your power to others. Create an environment of connection for your workforce, clients or consumers so they want your product or service because it will make their lives better, which in turn improves your performance, loyalty and profitability.

Download “Today’s Leaders Need Soft Skills” in PDF Format.

© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2012

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She creates environments that engage and focus your workforce. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and can be reached at 561-408-2708.


About the Author:

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She creates environments that engage and focus your workforce. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge, and can be reached at 561-408-2708 or
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