Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Soft Skill Development Breeds Solid Leadership Effectiveness

Personal Skill Assessment – this is an area where we often have a vastly different reality index when considering “Hard skills” vs. “Soft Skills” area. Hard skills fall into the category of specific abilities such as doing calculus, working with a spreadsheet, creating a project plan or designing a new function - the technical attributes. Soft skills are more related to attributes such as leadership, communications, objectivity, decision-making, vision or problem solving – the personality attributes.

Generally, we tend to more realistic in identifying deficiencies in our hard skills than our soft skills. This may be because of an underlying fear of being perceived as broken, from a personality standpoint. Or it may be the product of our pride or ego. Regardless of the specific reason, the ability to become a stronger leader will be based on the suite of soft skills at our disposal. If we are in a leadership position, our ability to retain and grow in that capacity will be directly proportional to our continued soft skill development. The barriers to soft skill assessment and development must be lowered.

As effective leaders of new product development teams we must be “soft skill teachable”. This means that we do not have all the answers, but we will passionately seek them. It means that we are convinced there is always a better way; we are not already there. It means that we will keep our ego, pride and fear in check, remaining ever open to the possibility that we may not be right. Above all, we must continuously pursue possibilities that enable advancement in our core soft skill portfolio.

Soft skill training, coaching and guidance must be a strategic component of our development objectives. I have learned that given enough time in our own heads, the impression of our soft skill competency will become skewed and unrealistic; in time we may approach legendary status in our own minds. External input and guidance is vital for our accurate soft skill assessment and development to guarantee we are balanced towards ego deflating reality. Seek out those personal and professional resources that will provide soft skill authenticity and expansion, thus securing the reality of your leadership vision.

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