Monday, October 5, 2015

Soft Skills Are the New Black

I’ve had some unique opportunities in my career to work with incredibly bright people. They had decades of experience, knew the industry inside and out, and could piece together all of the complex parts of a health system to move things forward.

They were really something…except for one minor little detail.

Being Human
One of the great downfalls of executive leadership (ahem, read here — excuse) is the focus on results exclusively. Yes, results are very important. Without them organizations would cease to exist. However, when results are the only thing considered something equally as important is lost.

The hard skills that are often associated with talented leaders fail to provide most of the leadership necessary in today’s world of work. At the executive level competency is a requirement, just as the specialized management path those leaders have been on is important before they move into a generalized management role. Otherwise the opportunity to move into the executive ranks would never have materialized in the first place.

But the obsession with results comes at a high cost.

Leading Human
One of my new mantras is the following...

Relationships first…results second.” 

Without those other skills…soft skills…leaders quickly earn a reputation as a hard-ass-know-it-all. 

Other leaders scramble to manage the messages these people send…or pull them aside for special ‘coaching’ sessions to try and avoid plummeting morale, or outright migrations of talented people who don’t want to work with such hard-nosed and arrogant leaders.

Laughing off soft skills as unimportant is like walking down the hallways of your organization and insulting your employees to their face. 

Employees want to work in a good place. Relationships make organizations good. Arrogance destroys them.

How About You
Have you brushed up on your soft skills lately; or, are you too busy promulgating your vision for how to save the organization? Maybe you need to slow down the next time you pass a mirror and take a good long look. If you have problems in every area of the organization, well, maybe the problem is you.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 


  1. Jay,

    You give such great insight. As a VA and former EA I was very particular with whom I would serve. Would it be the best in the business who was known for being a jerk or would it be #2 or #3 who was known having happy employees? Without hesitation I go with #2 or #3. It's only a matter of time before they become #1 anyways. Manners matter even at work and simple "thank you" goes a long way.

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