Published on: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Are Hard or Soft Skills More Important?
One can have the very best technical and functionally specific expertise but cannot be considered a leader without engaging followers, and that is done through effective communication, relationship-building and developing emotional connections.
"I would argue that it is the proficiency in the 'soft' skills like empathy, communication and emotional intelligence that determine whether a leader is even able to successfully employ the 'hard' skills like analysis, risk management and operating efficiencies. You really can't operate efficiently if you can't get the best from your people, and they may not 'hear' you if there's no emotional connection," began one of the discussions within the ExecuNet community.
Striking the right balance between "hard" and "soft" skills is one of the ultimate tests of leadership, and ExecuNet members conveyed their thoughts:"Managers use what you call hard skills to plan, organize, command and control organizations. This is very different from the role of a leader, who uses personal influence (soft skills) to guide people toward goals."
"I believe that even though a combination of soft and hard skills are required at all stages of a manager's career, the mix changes steadily from being biased toward hard skills initially to soft skills later on."
"I strongly believe that, given a foundational level of hard skills, soft skills are MUCH more important than hard skills relative to an executive's success and the success of their organization."
"In my experience there's nothing soft in soft skills, and they are undervalued in many organizations, resulting in negative effects on the bottom-line."
"In a normal résumé/cover letter/interview, how many hiring managers really screen on soft skills? None, because what candidate has EVER admitted, 'Well, to be honest, I'm a marginal communicator; I'm not great in working with teams;' or 'I think listening skills are overrated.'"
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Robyn Greenspan is ExecuNet's Chief Content Officer, where she is responsible for setting and driving the editorial content engagement strategy across the private business network's publications and expert-led programming. She is also a Huffington Post blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @RobynGreenspan