‘Soft skills’ can be misleading, and overlooked in favour of ‘hard business results’.  But ask any business leader if they’d turn their nose up at better customer relationships, project success through collaboration, sky-rocketing team performance, increased sales, low turnover and absenteeism … the list goes on.  And often exhibiting ‘soft skills’ can mean making the hardest calls of all.

Let’s take the potentially confusing area of ‘emotional intelligence’ as an example.  This isn’t about being ‘emotional’, or ‘nurturing’, or ‘kind’.  Or getting in touch with your feminine side.  It is about understanding ourselves and what is driving us (and others) so that we can respond appropriately to what is happening, rather than react in a knee-jerk fashion to how we are feeling.  We may decide to respond strongly and passionately because that will yield the best results.  Or pause to provide space for others to give their views.  Or take a long, slow, deep breath.  Quite literally.

The emotional intelligent difference is that rather than being run by our emotions in the moment (like anger, sadness, frustration, overwhelm …) we notice them, pause to understand them, and then take the most useful action.  On purpose.  We decide, then act, consciously in order to achieve the best outcome.  This is mindful leadership in action.  It may require a bit of practice, but it is oh so powerful when you learn to use it.

So if your business is embarking on …

  • Reshaping your culture
  • Implementing some important changes
  • Developing useful mindsets to stay competitive
  • Supporting your people to achieve in a demanding environment, as their workload soars
  • Upskilling to increase innovation and creativity
  • Building goal-achievement as a key competency
  • Preparing key staff for succession
  • Getting out of a rut: re-energising, re-invigorating and setting a compelling direction

… it is likely it’s the soft skills that will be most valuable.


“Nothing happens without personal transformation.”  Deming

Author: Nicola Deakin