It’s crucial for leaders to have soft skills like emotional intelligence. But how do they learn these abilities, asks Hannah Prevett in HR magazine?
Open communication, as well as integrity and authenticity, rank highly on the list of qualities employees require from leaders.
“In uncertain times it’s helpful for leaders to communicate a very clear purpose so that others still have a compelling reason to want to come to work and contribute to the organisation’s success. Clear values, consistently expressed and role modelled, also help to engage others,” says Simon Hayward, chief executive of leadership development consultancy Cirrus.
But can such qualities (often described as ‘soft skills’) be taught? With the external climate making such skills all the more important, the debate on whether qualities such as the ability to motivate people, authenticity, and being good at public speaking are innate or can be learned is hotting up.
The bottom line for many though is that, with the stakes so high for getting this brand of leadership right, organisations cannot afford to just throw their hands up and say something is ‘simply unteachable’.
Leadership soft skills, ultimately, are critical to business success, reiterates Hayward. “Authenticity and values are no longer just nice things to have. They can boost business performance,” he says. “In recent years we have witnessed a breakdown in trust in organisations following many high-profile cases of miss-selling, misreporting and corruption. In some cases the financial consequences can run into billions of pounds in damages and stock market value write-downs. Corporate amorality is a very costly business.”