Coaching for Leadership and Managementdifferences between hard and soft skills is:
Hard skills are those where the rules stay the same regardless of which company, circumstance, or people you work with. In contrast, soft skills are those where the rules change depending on the company culture and people you work with.
Who Are You?
You Are an Individual Contributor
Almost all of us start our careers reporting to someone else with no employees reporting to us. You were hired because of your knowledge and technical/hard skills in a particular field, such as engineering, information technology, finance, marketing, or sales.
You are expected to produce specific outcomes such as the design of a new product, roll-out of a new internal IT system, higher customer reach through social media, and so on.
You Are a Team Leader
You aren't responsible for the performance reviews for the people on your team, but they've been assigned to work with you. You have the responsibility for generating the outcome.
You need to delegate work, help resolve group conflicts, speak to someone when their behavior or performance is impeding progress, and handle the people-side of the group dynamics as well as organize the technical work. You nave to handle presentations to management, accept responsibility for mistakes without blaming others, and stand up for your team as needed.
You Are a Supervisor or Manager
You have already passed the individual contributor stage and have people reporting to you, perhaps 2 levels deep or more. In addition to the responsibilities of team leader, you need to follow HR policies and procedures regarding performance evaluations and related matters.
What Brings You Here?
As you dig into your responsibilities, you start to learn that getting things done in your group or company requires good soft skills as well. Sometimes those are more important to your success than your expertise, especially when you are a supervisor or manager.
You may have learned that attitudes and behaviors play a stronger role in getting things done than you previously assumed. The depth of skill needed in communication, giving and receiving feedback, accountability, negotiation, relationships, working in groups, and participating in or leading a meeting can be the deciding factor in your ability to be hired and promoted.
While you may have some native talent in these areas, more often you’ve probably learned through trial and error. It’s often the case that high school, college, and even graduate school didn’t prepare you for this aspect of working. Unfortunately, lists of universally applicable, step-by-step instructions for improving various soft skills don’t exist.
Still, your performance may have warranted a promotion, and you are now responsible for managing people. As the presentation below shows, the necessary people skills don’t necessarity blossom overnight.Navigating the Skills Curve
What Do You Want to Work On?
It’s one thing to know what best practices are where soft skills are concerned. It’s another to know how you stack up against them.
When are you being assertive versus aggressive in promoting your ideas? What is accountability and what does your manager means when he says you’re accountable for a result? How well do you manage stress? What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to soft skills? And how do I take advantage of those strengths while avoiding those weaknesses?
How Will You Get There?
The diagram below shows a great tool you will learn to use to decide what, specifically,
needs to change to overcome a challenge or take advantage of an opportunity. This works at many levels, both personally, professionally, and for organizations.
As with all such diagrams, we don’t assume that life and business happens this neatly or sequentially. Still, we have used it with clients (and ourselves, for that matter) for years with great success.
Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo / buchachon