INFLUENCE AS A SOFT SKILL – WHY IT MATTERS
The current job-seeking market is flooded with brilliant minds and people well-versed in their technical craft. But as IT develops rapidly with each passing day, accurate systems and robotics have begun to increase the redundancy of humans in certain job spaces. It may come as a surprise to note that some of the most in-demand skills right now are attentive to how the work is done and not necessarily what work one can do.
Although many people are good at their craft, they do not excel when given the platform to lead, work with others, organize or create. Skills like communication are not taught in skills, and yet, these are some of the most important professional skills. “Soft skills” is what they are called. Difficult to measure on paper and require broad reading, professional high transformation coaching and experience. One reason soft skills are so revered is that they help facilitate human connections. “Soft skills are key to building relationships, gaining visibility, and creating more opportunities for advancement,” says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career-coaching firm TurningPoint.
One type of skill is not more important than another. The ability to delivery with efficiency and accurately on a task is as important as the processes you undertake while trying to achieve this. The key is to have a balance of both. While you master the technical side of things such as specific task competencies expertise, you should include skills such as listening and speaking, collaboration and teamwork, people management, etc. “Soft skills are the accelerator that drives you to win your personal and profitability targets.”
Here is some truth about soft skills that you may be unaware of:
- Your soft skills are not simply a nature. Every skill, talent or gift must be developed.
- Every decision you take regarding your soft skills will be judged from the receiver’s perspective.
- The most important language to speak is influence.
- Your confidence is continually shaped by the tiniest impact you make. So keep being imperfect and grow into confidence.
LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report found that 92% of employers view soft skills as at least as important as hard skills. But many say they cannot always find candidates with the abilities they need: skills like creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management. Some modern workers may be developing great technical abilities at the cost of interpersonal grace. “The more the younger generations communicate electronically, the less practice they’ll have communicating in person, and the more often that lack of skill will be noticed,” Jane Snipes, managing partner at NorthStar Recruiting in South Carolina, told the Society for Human Resources Management.
Alexandra Levit, author of “Humanity Works,” wrote for TrainingIndustry.com, “In a business climate dominated by human/machine collaboration,” the skills that make us human are more important than ever. “While technology is helping lead innovation, developing our soft skills is necessary to stay relevant, communicate value and supplement those important technical skills.” – Doug Harward and Ken Taylor of Training Industry, Inc. It is rather unfortunate that organizations are still heavily fixated on hard skills, and paying very little attention to soft skills.
The lack of significance given to soft skills can be traced back to leaders and their mindset about this skill set. When in 2016 McKinsey & Company studied more than 52,000 managers and employees on their engagement skills, there was a surprising number of leaders who exhibited inflated views of their abilities. These leaders neither modeled the improvements they had been pushing for in their companies or inspired action. Employees interviewed by the Gallup poll revealed that 82% of managers and executives were seen as lacking in leadership skills. It is common for executives to be given positions of leadership based on their technical expertise. It is not very often that the communication skills, collaboration skills, problem solving, adaptability skills, etc. are set in place as additional measure of qualification. So in many fields of work, executives are unable to perform to the highest required standards.
Let’s discuss one of the most necessary soft skills in today’s workplace; influence. The matter of influence may be explained as the power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. An influential person usually holds the position of leadership and drives a passion in other people to develop their personal growth. One of the major challenges faced by leaders without the skill of influence is ineffective corporation management. Leaders and individuals deficient in this skill encounter the problem of poor team-building, team development and team management. Specific challenges include how to instill pride in a team or support the team, how to lead a big team, and what to do when taking over a new team. Such leaders are also unable to power the needed change to get things done. Without influence, one cannot overcome resistance to change or safely lead to counteract followers’ resistance to change. Some individuals in the position of power, in an attempt to exhibit the influence, they clearly do not have end up instilling fear in their employees. In some harsh cases, this may be called bullying. Employees or people at the disadvantage have to deal with a person lacking compassion and a warm persona. Leaders without influence simply cannot lead because they do not have personal and organizational clarity, they lack confidence and suffer the issue of poor communication skills.
Clearly, the journey of developing influence is not a cakewalk. However, with these 4 key steps each and every leader and potential leader can begin to walk the journey with the bigger picture in mind.
FIRST – SELF
Without YOU, influence cannot happen. Your ability to understand yourself and how others respond to you through self-awareness and your ability to create a bridge between yourself and all that engage you through self-regulation will create your own self-influence Model. The key to the above is your “Signature” This is where the self-work comes in. Remember when you had to create your signature for your documents? Based on your own self-reflection you decided to make it a complicated design or as simple as your initials. You will need to embark on that same exercise with your self-influence. What would you like your followers to read? What will it mean it them? How will they perceive you? Is that what you want? This part of the process is all about self. Take some time out to work on it because it is truly worth the wait.
TAP THE HEART
Research continues to reveal that as much as analysis, data, numbers and tactics matter, what makes the real difference ultimately is a leader’s ability to evoke emotions. We must remember that all of us are emotional beings and between the head, heart and hand, the heart is still in the middle and therefore the connector of the logic and the profit. So in any mode of engagement for influence the persuasion point is emotion, and here is the key that leaders must remember: For any effective heart decision the other party must feel the fuel from us. We can never engage emotions if we are disengaged or misaligned with ourselves or with the source of need. So just like the generator generates its own power to supply leaders must raise necessity, power up their emotional generators and then release. That is the ‘heart’ of it all!
LEVERAGE THE MAGNET
An authority on influence Robert Cialdini says “A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do is a favor, we will be more successful when we provide a reason. In my coaching sessions I call it the “Executives Why” the leader’s magnet for influence. All individuals we engage will appreciate a reason in communication be it to explain to clarify or to inspire, a reason instills an unparalleled confidence in leadership. The why concept does not end at the vision stage it actually sets the ball rolling to the many whys we will give along the way. Our tool is to create a shiny polish of all our whys and start indexing them for consistent use in our various connections and communication. The value of your why has the power to infect others because others begin to feel that their concerns are responded to with care, and they draw from you to take action. That makes them more and more connected to you. The why is truly an unsolicited magnet of persuasion which is the bedrock of influence.
We have all agreed that we need at least one person to enable us influence, therefore we must remember that to achieve the pinnacle of influence we must penetrate social spaces intangibly. We must create engagement with platforms where we can easily touch the people, we lead by giving them true value. True value to our talent is our capacity to develop their personal ability with a ‘people skills’ approach. We must recognize that they are social beings and they need connective interventions. Our ability to coach, guide, give feedback and help them acquire skills through complementary engagement helps us to build the credibility required for them to create the multiplier effect for us. The more comfortable they get with us the more conversations they have about us, and the more influence they create for us in their social spaces. We cannot reach all but the individuals we develop become our access to the communities we influence.
No matter where it we stand in life, soft skills will always be important to our personal development and the impact we make in the world.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.