Social Skills You Need as a Leader and How to be the Leader Your Team Needs
Rising through the ranks and landing a top-dog role like Chief Executive Officer isn’t the process it once was. Years ago, leaders who were financially savvy or had profound knowledge of their industry were the ones highly sought after for the top jobs and those with better social skills were seen as weaker leaders. These days the tide has turned and companies are seeking out leaders with strong social skills.
Authors from the Harvard Business Review found that companies are calling for leaders who are adept communicators, relationship builders, and people-oriented problem solvers after analysing nearly 7,000 job descriptions for C-suite roles. Apparently, these changes are due to the growing workforce and the fact that business operations are becoming more complex and tech-centered.
I’m glad to see we are moving past the times where being empathetic, kind, emotional or even taking an interest in your employee’s career development was seen as weak and had no place in effective management or leadership. Today, in order to survive in the current business climate and become a successful leader, leaders not only need to be intelligent and strong decision makers, they need to have excellent social skills.
Why are social skills so sought after now? Well, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we view mental health issues, saw millennials be introduced into the workforce and employees have stopped tolerating bad bosses and leaders. Many employees would rather work for someone who is kind and caring, than someone that makes them stress out during work. We spend so much of our lives working, and we shouldn’t have to work in an environment that is toxic.
Here are some of the social skills I believe leaders MUST have in order to be successful.
1. Emotional intelligence
For leaders, emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and understand your own emotions, as well as recognising the emotions of your colleagues and team members. Emotional intelligence is comprised of social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, kindness, empathy and great communication skills.
No one wants to work for an ungrateful boss or leader. Employees and colleagues like their hard work to be recognised and appreciated. Great leaders always motivate their employees by thanking them or even praising them when they do a great job. Leaders who show gratitude find that their employees work harder and are more productive and positive.
Leaders are human, employees are human, colleagues are human, we are all human. Humans make mistakes and how leaders react to their own mistakes and those of their employees is very telling of the type of leader they are. Humble leaders are more approachable, willing to acknowledge the work of others and take mistakes as a teaching opportunity, rather than an opportunity to get annoyed.
Once upon a time, leaders who were empathetic were often seen as being weaker leaders. I’m pleased to say that this has changed, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. More employees want to work for leaders who are empathetic towards them, understanding of mental health issues, are aware of their feelings and understand their needs.
Leaders who are kind and understanding get more out of their employees and are more likely to retain and attain employees. Kindness was at one point, like empathy, considered to be a weak skill for a leader to have. This has changed and kindness has become one of the most desired traits in a leader for employees. This is a very welcome change.
Authentic leaders are leaders who are themselves and don’t try and be someone they are not. These types of leaders are able to inspire loyalty, motivation, passion and trust in their employees through this genuine and transparent management style. They also encourage a positive environment.
Approachable leaders are the ones who have an open-door policy, are easy to deal with and encourage employees to feel safe enough to come to them with any concerns. It’s important to make it clear to your employees from day one to always feel free to come to you if they have concerns about the workplace or a project. This way you will always know what is going on in the office.
8. Listening and Communication
Great listening and communication skills are essential for the leaders of today, and tomorrow. Good leaders are the ones who actually take the time to sit down and really listen to something a colleague or employee is trying to tell them. Being able to give clear and concise directions to employees is also vital for running a business, which is why great communication skills are also needed.
By Sonia McDonald – CEO of LeadershipHQ And McDonald Inc. Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO And Award Winning Author.
Sonia McDonald is changing the face of leadership across the globe. She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, and is known for her mantra ‘Just Lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her transformational coaching, leadership training programs and cultural transformation for organisations and encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped thousands of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
Sonia is a founder and CEO of McDonald Inc., LeadershipHQ and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and 2022 Courage Conference. For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of leadership and she is beyond committed to her mission around building a world of great leaders.
She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader. She has been recognised by Richtopia as One of the Top 250 Influential Women across the Globe and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is a leading coach, an award-winning published author of newly released First Comes Courage, Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! and has become an in-demand keynote speaker on leadership, kindness and courage.
Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, kindness, empathy and courage as well as building outstanding leadership across the Globe.