6 Soft Skills To Teach Your Leaders
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Soft Skills, Hard Results: The Benefits Of Leadership Training

When businesses first embark on employee training, they tend to focus on hard skills that are essential for day to day operations and easy to define and measure—things like teaching office employees Excel or showing fast food employees how to flip burgers.

But while hard skills are an easy sell, the oft-neglected soft skills are essential for leading people, solving problems, earning customer trust, and closing deals—all key factors to business success. A soft skills-focused online training program helps prepare present and future executives to face such challenges.

Top 6 Leadership Soft Skills You Should Teach Your Employees

Here are the 6 most important leadership soft skills that you need to teach your employees to help them become more efficient executives and better team managers.

1. Communication

They say that whole wars can be won or lost based on how effective an army's communication network is. The same holds true in business. Successful leaders know how to facilitate open and effective communication, both within their team and throughout the company. To achieve this they first need to master the art of effective communication themselves.

A soft skills training course focused on business communication skills will allow your executives to write and express themselves more clearly, and help them build their public speaking skills.

2. Teamwork

One of the most important leadership soft skills is knowing how to organize and run a team.

Merely getting a bunch of employees to work in the same office is not enough to qualify them as one. The key ingredient to building a real team is teamwork (as the word itself hints). It’s all about knowing how to properly split the work that needs to be done, and how to combine individual strengths and skills towards a common goal.

With the exception of a few natural born corporate leaders (such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos), leadership and delegation skills do not come easy to most employees. The fact that team dynamics can often get incredibly nuanced only helps to further complicate things.

Online leadership training gives executives the soft skills and tools that they need to manage their teams and empowers them to identify and fix the most common problems preventing effective workplace collaboration.

3. Decision-Making

One of the reasons why leadership training is important is because most people are really bad at making decisions.

There are lots of ways to fail at decision making:

  • over-thinking a decision (aka "analysis paralysis")
  • focusing on insignificant details (aka "bikeshedding")
  • underestimating how long a project will take
  • obsessing over extremely unlikely negative outcomes
  • rushing to a decision based on incomplete information

Among the main benefits of leadership training is that it helps instill a structured approach to decision-making in executives. In other words, it turns decision-making from an ad-hoc process (of "listening to one's gut") into an organized endeavor based on asking the right questions and answering them with the appropriate data.

4. Problem-Solving

A successful leader is, first and foremost, a problem solver. They are the one others will call on when they can't find a solution to a business issue by themselves.

Problem-solving, along with decision-making, is one of the most important leadership soft skills. While newly encountered business problems might seem unique, the truth is that few things are really new under the sun.

Most issues a business leader is called to handle have occurred again in one form or another and usually, call for a similar solution to what has been used in the past. Through a combination of studying common business problems and their solutions, and teaching common problem-solving techniques  (such as divide-and-conquer), a soft skills training program will arm prospective business leaders with the tools needed to dissect, analyze, and solve any issue thrown at them.

5. Empowerment

Businesses rarely fail because their employees lacked hard skills. Through a combination of pre-employment screening and employee training, those are usually pretty well catered for. It's more common for businesses to fail because their leadership lacked soft skills. That's why the importance of leadership development in the workplace cannot be stressed enough.

One of the most crucial, but sadly overlooked, leadership skills, is empowerment. That is the ability of leaders to encourage and inspire their team members to take initiative. An online leadership training program that tackles this soft skill should emphasize the importance of delegation, and how a sense of ownership (of a particular workflow, project, product and so on) can work wonders in motivating employees.

6. Empathy

Empathy, or emotional intelligence, is another soft skill that some people innately possess, and others need to be taught. A non-empathetic person in an executive role can cause great damage in a work environment. Lack of empathy among managers can de-motivate employees, instill fear and suspicion among team members, and increase employee churn.

Often, though, it's not sociopathy that's the issue, but inexperience in applying empathy in the workplace. A manager, for example, might need specific training to be able to recognize certain emotions among employees, and to understand how they affect employee morale, and to know how to handle them.

One of the most important leadership soft skills is knowing when to put the mask of cold professionalism aside, and engage in emotional support, humor, camaraderie, etc., with the members of your team.

The Benefits Of Leadership Training

As is evident from this post's list of important soft skills, there are lots of things an employee poised for a leadership role (or even a seasoned executive) can gain from leadership programs.

The benefits of a soft skills training program extend, of course, to the business running it:

1. Increased Productivity

More often than not, it's not external obstacles that hurt a company's productivity, but self-imposed organizational failures. A leadership with the proper soft skills can help address the biggest threats to a team's productivity, such as friction between team members, under-utilization, inability to delegate, communication issues, and so on.

2. Improved Office Culture

Soft skills training can help office leaders turn a toxic work environment into a friendly and productive one. The ability to listen to employee concerns and empathize with them, for example, can be leveraged to identify and fix any problematic aspects of your office environment. An improved office culture, in turn, can help boost employee satisfaction, and reduce churn.

3. Greater Agility

Soft skills also help make a company agiler, and faster to respond to changing market conditions and customer requirements. Proper communication, for example, will reduce confusion and help employees focus on what needs to be done.

Similarly, increased teamwork and employee empowerment will help you leverage your team's skills to reach desired targets faster. Similarly, an improvement in your managers' problem-solving skills will let them tackle issues faster and with clarity.

4. Enhanced Transparency

One of the worst things that can happen to a company is for the upper management to be getting a distorted picture of the truth "on the ground". This distortion can happen because of fear (e.g. employees avoiding to be bearers of negative news), miscommunication, or simply lack of coordination. A leadership soft skills training program can help increase transparency throughout the company, and shed light on existing problems and future concerns at all levels.

Conclusion

Even though people's skills are often overlooked, the need for businesses to provide their employees with a balanced mix of hard and soft skills training is unarguable.

If your company is not yet considering its own soft skills training program, it really should—and soon. And when it does, the use of powerful online employee training software, like TalentLMS is strongly recommended.

Sign up today for a free-for-life TalentLMS account, and see for yourself how the leading corporate training platform can handle all your company's soft and hard training skills with aplomb.

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