8 Traits of a Leader: The Soft Skills of Leadership
Soft skills begin to gain more respect the higher that a person climbs up the ladder.
Nowadays, with the rise of technology, soft skills are becoming very prominent.
Tons of technical work are getting outsourced.
Gone are the days where your hard skills alone would seal a job.
Nowadays, employers look to see whether or not the potential employee has the intangibles.
Can they work in a team?
Does this person bring enthusiasm or a mopey attitude?
What about their creativity? Is this an order follower or a conductor of innovative ideas??
It’s hard to pin down soft skills.
What exactly is it?
In this article, we are going to make sure that we are on the same page regarding the definition of this skill set.
Then, I’m going to give you 8 soft skills of leadership.
Slowly collect these skillsets throughout your career, and you’ll have no option but to succeed.
Defining Soft Skills
I am going to give you a formal definition, first.
Then I’m going to give you a poetic definition.
Soft skills are the ability to deal with people.
‘Do I also fit under the category of ‘people’?
This brings me to the poetic definition.
Hard skills are the ability to use instruments.
Soft skills are the ability to become the instrument.
As you deal with others, you’ll often see the answers keep leading back to you.
In order to make connections with your peers and employees, you need to understand how you work.
Therefore, a lifelong principle of sharpening your soft skills comes down to building self-awareness.
From this base, all the other skillsets will be added.
For the rest of this article, I am not going to put self-awareness on the list.
It’s something that I am including as a default for progressing in your soft skills journey.
Self-awareness is the ability to be aware of your thoughts and feelings as a 3rd party observer.
Let’s go to the top soft skills of leadership.
No particular order by the way.
1. The Ability to Listen
As we rise in any field, it’s all about learning how to listen.
The word ‘learning’ should stick out to you.
Listening is not an act that you can do just because you showed up.
You need to treat it like a skill that you are getting better at every day.
- Are you letting biases prevent you from understanding the other person?
- How well do you let someone else finish before you interject?
- Are your focus levels top tier, or has it been hazy?
These 3 questions can be asked whenever you’re wondering whether or not your listening skills are getting better.
Just know that you can improve every day.
The more you rise in a field, the more you gotta zip your mouth.
And use your ears.
2. Ability to Ask Questions
Asking questions is another soft skill.
It’s difficult to measure the ‘perfect question.’
Want to know why it’s so difficult?
Because there is no such thing.
It’s all context-dependent.
Me asking, ‘what did you eat for breakfast,’ seems like a reasonable question.
But if I ask this question right after someone got telling me about their recent promotion, then I’d look very inconsiderate.
It would seem like I wasn’t paying attention.
To ask the most context-appropriate question, we need sharp listening skills.
Otherwise, we will be in our minds letting our biases get involved.
Planning out what to say next, vs being there in the present moment.
A great leader consistently brings themself back to the present, until they are situated in that state.
3. Ability to Work in Teams
Working solo is great.
Being able to take care of business on your own is going to display another soft skill that I will be bringing up shortly.
But know this…
No matter how isolated of a business you ‘think’ you found yourself in, understand that’s rarely the case.
Let’s say you’re a YouTuber who built a following by recording videos on your phone.
Thus far, you’ve been able to monetize your audience.
At this point, you may think, ‘I don’t need to work with others. I’m a 1 man army!’
Until one day, your phone breaks.
Now, you and the phone repairman are going to have to work in a team.
It may be a temporary team, but a team, nevertheless.
You may even need to introduce your phone insurance person into the mix to get the situation resolved.
Imagine this at scale…
That’s why working in teams is one of the most important soft skills of leadership.
Even adding 1 new person to a team leads to a POTENTIAL for infinite chaos.
I didn’t say it will lead to infinite chaos. I said, potential.
Therefore, working in a team comes down to knowing:
-Who to work with.
-Who not to work with.
-Creating synergies among those who you work with.
Synergies are when all parties are winning.
This shows great soft skills from your end.
4. Ability to Problem Solve
They are “just” coders and technical people.
Great soft skills come down to the ability to think creatively.
That creativity is often sparked in the first place due to a problem.
There is a problem that is causing the imagination to be activated.
Engineers should master soft skills.
Those with great soft skills should unlock their inner engineer.
You are not just working with a big team to pass time.
Chances are you guys are working to solve a problem or to make sure a problem doesn’t occur.
That’s the essence of a business.
Become a better problem solver by:
Solving other people’s problems.
And create content on the problems you solved.
5. The Ability to Inspire
You may not like this if you consider yourself a lowkey kind of person.
‘Inspire?? That wasn’t a part of my job description,’ you think.
Most things required for soft skills will probably never be in any descriptions.
You just gotta’ learn the hard way.
Fall back though.
Inspiring someone does not mean that you need to get on a podium and start giving some speech.
It comes down to giving someone clarity.
This is when you remove dark clouds from someone’s mind to shine the light.
Let’s say your team is doing a lot of work…
But they are dragging their feet.
A leader will check to see if the team knows WHY they are doing what they are doing.
Often, management skips this.
This is why the employees lose their fire.
When you let them know the WHY behind their role, clarity has been given.
Inspiration has been unlocked.
You’re executing beautifully in the soft skills of leadership.
6. Turn the Complex into Simple
Because those are simply the vehicles.
The fundamental is the message.
A person with poor soft skills gets a simple concept and makes it complex.
A person with great soft skills gets a complex concept and makes it simple.
I said earlier that soft skills are the ability to make yourself an instrument.
To do this, you need added self-awareness.
Here’s the thing…
Naturally, humans love to talk. At a baseline state, we are programmed to ramble.
Just look at a little kid who found out how to use language. They talk away.
Therefore, the ability to have SELF AWARENESS to correct yourself require a ton of patience and work.
Sometimes, the ego will be like, ‘Yes, add more details. *evil laugh* That’ll show those idiots how smart we are.’
That’s when self-correction is needed.
Tell people just enough to give them clarity.
Excellent soft skills right their bud.
I don’t know my IQ score.
Nor do I care.
Because in the real world, consistency is an intelligence of its own.
I’m giving you a very general overview by the way.
Because consistency has the other skillsets of grit, patience, courage, and much more.
It’s important for a leader to be consistent because it shows that you walk it like you talk it.
Very easy to show up when you feel like it.
But when you show up no matter what…now you are a professional.
Imagine you spend your hard-earned money on a haircut.
The barber is having a bad day and is half-assing the haircut.
How would you react?
I’d be pissed.
I hate it when someone fucks up my hair.
Not trying to lack compassion.
But I paid the barber for a top-notch cut.
Be a professional.
Stay consistent in your craft.
Control the dark emotions, tame them, and deliver.
If you can do that, then you will show signs of great soft skills.
Consistency becomes much easier when you have enthusiasm.
Plus, it’s easier to inspire others when enthusiasm is on your side.
Some people think you are born with high energy.
I believe that it’s cultivated.
In order to cultivate enthusiasm, you need to give yourself some clarity.
It’s all about taking incremental steps forward in something.
If I put you in a forest and don’t give you a map or anything…
It’s very unlikely that you’ll feel enthusiastic.
On the other hand, if I give you a map and tell you that there is a pot of gold at the end of the destination…
The narrative changes.
Now it’s a game of not only moving forward but ALSO having an incentive.
Therefore, the formula for enthusiasm is:
- Clarity of Progression + Incentive.
Level up Your Soft Skills of Leadership
Soft skills are a fancy phrase for street smarts.
It’s real-world intelligence that allows others to know that you mean business.
Without soft skills, you’ll notice opportunities being snatched.
With soft skills, you’ll notice opportunities being presented.
All the skills in this article are skillsets that anyone can cultivate.
We don’t have a fixed mindset on this blog, homie.
Anything worth learning can be learned.
If I wanted to learn calculus 5 in 3 months, I could learn it.
Only if I commit to it.
When your heart is behind a task, the mind has no option but to follow.
Make the decision that you WILL skyrocket the soft skills of leadership.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
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