Soft skills need rebranding. People have suggested calling soft skills as 'power', 'essential', 'must-haves' and 'core' skills. However, in many industries, operational efficiency, data and technical skills are so focused on, that soft skills get undervalued. We underinvest in soft skills with the mindset that these skills are innate and unlearnable. But in reality, the term 'soft skills' is a misnomer. More and more so, soft skill workshops have been put front and center, training individuals in negotiation, marketing and leadership.
If you're feeling skeptical that soft skills is more than just soft skills, think about it like this: over the years of our life, we develop these skills naturally, through interpersonal relationships with our family, teachers, partners, colleagues and bosses. Through these experiences, we learn social skills like tact and diplomacy.
Recall incidences when you had to behave politely while working on a group project in school with a classmate you really, really disliked. Or when you had to tell your partner they look great to reassure them when the hairdresser botches up the haircut. These are skills that we unconsciously take over into the workplace, which is why we don't feel like we have to develop it in the same way we develop hard skills. However, it is important to acknowledge that the natural charisma and good interpersonal skills from our daily lives can transform into amazing leadership skills, and that so much more could be achieved if we placed more importance on those skills.
Can you imagine if both you and your coworker had zero communication skills and miss each other's points completely?
It'd be like having one person going for a handshake while the other went for a hi-five. Completely misaligned, regardless of how technically skilled each team member is individually. As more and more people upskill, the next generation of workers, executives and leaders will need to prepare to have a hybrid skill set balancing both hard and soft skills.
Technical skills may get you the job, but soft skills can make or break you as a leader!
Even tip-top organizations concur with this. Google had conducted an internal study known as Project Aristotle. Project Artistotle observed the most innovative and productive teams within the company weren't the ones with top scientists, and MBA holders. The best teams were filled with team members with strong soft skills like good communication, insights about others and empathetic leadership. Deloitte has also pinned soft skills as something that has to be continuously improved upon, and being critical for business success.
This is why we have to adopt a new understanding of soft skills. They aren't just soft skills - they're power skills. They aren't optional, they are essential for getting you to success and should be constantly put into practice.