Mastering Soft Skills Beyond the Boardroom
Posted March 1, 2024

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Another way to elevate your executive presence

By Monica HoyerTwo women talking in conference room

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, being successful is more than just doing your job well. It’s also about possessing specific skills that enable effective collaboration with others. These skills, known as soft skills, become more important as you move up in your career. It can be challenging to improve and use these skills in your leadership journey, but let’s explore why they’re crucial for leaders.

Understanding the Power of Important Soft Skills

Soft skills encompass a lot of different things, including:

  • Clear communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving

As you move forward in your career, these skills become increasingly important. They have the ability to significantly improve your workplace and contribute to the overall success of the company.

Mastering Clear and Strong Communication

For executives, clear and strong communication is a cornerstone soft skill. Expressing your ideas in a way that others can easily understand ensures your team is aware of what you are asking. Actively listening to diverse perspectives is crucial for many reasons:

  1. Informed Decision-Making:
    Your decisions impact the entire organization. By hearing all perspectives you will have a more comprehensive understanding of various viewpoints and potential implications. This will lead to more effective and well-rounded solutions.
  2. Inclusive Leadership:
    Taking into account perspectives from individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints fosters an inclusive culture. This, in turn, encourages everyone to contribute their best ideas and feel a sense of belonging within the organization.
  3. Employee Engagement and Morale:
    Recognizing and respecting all employees positively impacts employee engagement and morale. When employees are heard they feel valued and know they are in an organization that encourages innovation. As a result, employees are more motivated and committed.

And finally, speaking with confidence inspires confidence in others.

Action Step: Practice Public Speaking

Join a local Toastmasters club or a similar public speaking group to enhance your communication skills. Participate in regular meetings, deliver speeches, and receive constructive feedback. This hands-on practice will boost your confidence and refine your ability to articulate ideas effectively.

Effective communication is a two-way street. It’s not just about expressing your thoughts; it’s equally about listening to others. (Active Listening is a topic in itself. We will tackle that in the coming weeks.)

Navigating Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence
noun
: the ability to recognize, understand, and deal skillfully with one’s own emotions and the emotions of others (as by regulating one’s emotions or by showing empathy and good judgment in social interactions)

To improve your emotional intelligence, focus on listening attentively to others, ask for feedback on your emotional responses, and reflect on your emotions in various situations.

Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence. It involves putting yourself in others’ shoes, understanding their perspectives, and responding with compassion. Executives who demonstrate empathy create a positive workplace culture, fostering strong connections within the team.

Action Step: Conduct 360-Degree Feedback

Seek feedback from colleagues, subordinates, and superiors to understand how your emotions impact your work. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance your emotional intelligence. The Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Assessment has a 360* feedback add-on — contact your iPEC coach today to learn more.

Excelling in Team Collaboration

Working effectively in a team is crucial for leaders. Executives are required to be not only effective leaders but also supportive team members. Respecting diverse ideas, fostering a positive team environment, and actively contributing to the team’s success are all key components.

Whatever teams you are on, encourage open communication. And remember to encourage and value each team member’s contributions.

Action Step: Lead a Collaborative Project

Take the initiative to lead a cross-functional project that requires collaboration among team members from different departments. This hands-on experience will enhance your teamwork skills and showcase your leadership abilities. It will demonstrate how you foster a positive and collaborative team environment.

Embracing Change and Problem-Solving

Adapting to change and solving complex problems is one of the keys to successful leadership. Leaders need to be flexible, embracing change as an opportunity for growth rather than a hurdle. And when the organization sees leaders acting this way, it will encourage others to be flexible and curious.

Continuous learning is one strategy for adapting to change. Stay informed about industry trends and seek out opportunities to learn new skills. By staying proactive in your learning journey, you position yourself as a forward-thinking leader capable of navigating the challenges of a dynamic business landscape.

Action Step: Engage with a Coach

If you’re serious about honing your soft skills and want to receive personalized guidance tailored to your leadership role, consider hiring a coach. Coaches can help you hone these skills so they work for you. A coach will help you identify areas for improvement and work with you to outline actionable strategies to enhance your leadership skills.

Coaching is a collaborative and goal-oriented process that aims to unlock your potential and drive professional growth. A coach can help you set clear objectives, develop a roadmap for success, and navigate challenges along the way. By seeking guidance from a coach, you invest in your ongoing development as a leader.

In Summary

As a leader, soft skills play a pivotal role in your success. Mastering clear communication, understanding emotions, excelling in teamwork, and handling change are skills that can be honed with intentional effort. Take control of your career trajectory by focusing on these important skills and explore the transformative impact of consulting with a coach. Your success as a leader isn’t just about what you know; it’s also about how well you can work with others and lead.

“Life is a perfect adventure; a game that cannot be won or lost, only played.”

-iPEC Foundation Principal

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