7 Essential Soft Skills to Elevate Your Leadership During the Pandemic
The disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought to economies, businesses and organizations across the world are one for the record books. The initial response of most countries was to lockdown their borders and quarantine their citizens into their homes. Slowly, businesses are opening while the pandemic stays and remains deadly. Leaders across the world remain unsure when a vaccine will be developed and become available to the public so that we can all go back to normalcy.
Meanwhile, as a leadership development coach and consultant, one of the most frequent questions from clients I get is “What (more than anything) should we be focusing on right now that will help our leadership team to be most effective?”
Leaders can remain on top of the disruptions by acquiring and focusing on these seven essential soft skills.
This is the most important soft skill that leaders should hone today. The reality is bad. Businesses are declaring bankruptcy. Millions are losing their jobs. Thousands are behind their mortgage payments. And the economy is in recession. In times like this, we need leaders with tons of optimism.
As a mental and emotional state, optimism allows leaders to see opportunities in difficulties. Optimistic leaders encourage employees to persist and achieve success in adversities.
2. Communication with Emotional Quotient (EQ)
You can be a real optimist, but unless you can communicate your thoughts to your people and convey your sense of confidence to succeed, you are not going to succeed as a leader. There are leaders who are born communicators. They can easily get their message across to people with seamless effort and effectiveness. But like other skills, communication can be learned. The key to improving your communication skills is to be a good listener. Good communicators are capable of empathizing with their listeners, whether they are employees or their superiors.
3. Critical thinking and decisiveness
Build your critical thinking skills through practice. Look at situations from multiple perspectives and consider solutions only after analyzing all the possible scenarios and consequences of any actions you will make. Critical thinkers look beyond what is obvious and search for validity and accuracy of data before making an important decision.
Leaders should develop their ability to make decisions that are time-sensitive and well-informed. This means that they only seek out the most appropriate information they need to make the decision while demonstrating a superior understanding of the knowledge held by their colleagues and subordinates.
Collaboration happens when leaders allocate a specific period of time to adequately examine data and information that would be material to making a decision. Sharing of information between groups can only happen when an appropriate policy for collaboration is in place. Leaders can build upon this to create a culture of information sharing and collaboration in their organization.
Some modern-day organizations operate in an environment of complexity that can be bewildering to employees. Leaders with collaborative skills can easily navigate this complexity and lead the team to accomplish organizational goals.
5. Conflict resolution with grace
Individuals are complex beings who must operate in an increasingly complex business environment. Conflicts between and among members of the team naturally arise. It is important for leaders to have the right conflict resolution skills. Empathy and respect are two of the essential components of good conflict resolution skills. Leaders should be able to meet the conflict head-on and be willing to show empathy to others. Leaders can disagree but it should be done in the most respectful way.
6. Sharpen your business skills
Leaders are great decision-makers because they have a well-rounded knowledge of business in general. They are fluent in such matters as KPIs, policies, processes, budgets, organizational mission and vision, and corporate values. Knowledge also enhances a leader’s competence, which in turn earns respect from your employees. Also, attending seminars and training (even if only online for now) can help.
The moral authority of leaders cannot be overemphasized. A leader cannot be skillful in human relations if he does not have a strong foundation in ethics. Fairness, justice, sense of decency and respect for others are values that are important. These are covered within the broader field of ethics.
Great leaders achieve their status primarily because they command a moral following among their people. Having ethical conduct builds a positive influence on others so that it becomes second nature for them to follow their leaders.