Three Top Soft Skills Leaders Need Training On

Business values and vision, empowerment and engagement
 Have you ever wondered what benefit your business leadership gets from attending training workshops?  Did they not learn everything they needed in their MBA program that included finance, running a business, and strategic thinking? The answer is NO.  To stay current, good leaders are always learning and improving especially in the area of “soft skills.”

According to Paula Ketter, Editor of TD Magazine, “Leaders in the 21st century require myriad skills to be successful, and those skills are becoming more diverse every day. It is imperative that training professionals incorporate many of these soft skills into leadership programs for high potentials.”

What are the “soft skills” leaders need most?  Leadership development experts run the gambit on what they say are key skills.  Briefly listed below are the three top skills you can find on most of their lists.
  1. Communication (see related Business Insider article) – This includes more than presentation or speaking skills, which may or may not have been offered in a business degree program.  Great leaders also listen well, gather input from all levels of the organization, and are good negotiators.
  2. Self-Awareness – Whether this as defined as emotional intelligence (defined in Inc. article), behavior traits (example in Business News Daily) , or personality style (article from Fast Company); great managers understand themselves and acknowledge that others may think differently.  This knowledge allows them to: emphasize with others, develop change management plans with employee reaction in mind, plus modify their communication methods to better influence and motivate others.
  3. Trustworthiness  (see related Forbes articles on Why and How with 8 C’s) – Building trust is a key component of customer relationships, collaboration with vendors, and employee team building; so it should be in the top three.  However, trust appears on many experts list, although lower than the more easily taught process skills.  

For thoughts on other leadership challenges, check out prior posts on Five Common Leadership Challenges and CEO Challenges.  For a list of additional leadership training ideas, check out older posts Leadership Development – Report Confirms Top Three Needs and Leadership Training – Report Indicates Top Four Needs.

If you can build and follow a process around it, then it typically can be defined as hard or technical skill wheras soft skills are not easily mapped into a step-by-step process. 

If you are designing or looking to buy a leadership development program, you may also want to read the 8-page white paper by Phillips: You Can Measure the Impact and ROI for Soft Skill Programs.

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