With the new year comes new perspectives to shape the direction business leaders and organizations take. Companies are transitioning their hiring and training practices around emotional intelligence and leadership competencies as they realize that these are now key skills. By definition, hard skills are skills that members of an organization develop to perform specific jobs. They can be measured and are pertinent to effectiveness in the workplace. They are essential. In contrast, soft skills have traditionally been considered “people skills” that are nice to have, yet have not been evaluated or considered as strongly. Now, however, companies are finding that those said soft skills are essential to specific jobs, and that they are measurable and correlate with success and innovation.
How To Frame These New Hard Skills For A Team
Author and researcher Daniel Goleman is often credited with saying, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, value and effectively apply the power of emotions as a source of human energy, information, trust, creativity and influence.”
One of the best frames through which to view the new hard skills is the research and application of the facets of emotional intelligence. Researchers first coined the term in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that emotional intelligence hit the mainstream. Today, researchers draw a direct correlation between emotional intelligence and leadership, organization effectiveness, improved relations and engagement. In my experience, emotional intelligence — framed by social management, social awareness, personal management and personal awareness — relates to the bottom line in any company where people are working with other people.
Consider for a moment how often your team members or employees could benefit from well-developed emotional intelligence skills.
1. Intrapersonal: Your team and leaders develop self-efficacy, responsibility, awareness and autonomy of thought.
2. Interpersonal: Through better interpersonal communication on each project or process, your team is built on trust and integrity of word.
3. Adaptability: Your team practices essential competencies of critical thinking and problem-solving.
4. Engagement: Team members evoke synergy and build resiliency to challenges.
These are all key areas that have been researched for not only their importance to the success of an organization, but because they are key competencies and skills one should have in the workplace. These new hard skills help direct employees and leaders through challenges, projects and innovation.
How To Frame These New Hard Skills For Leaders
Leaders are expected to navigate and communicate at a higher level than those they lead. Therefore, it is imperative that they have the team’s foundation for competencies, yet also build on those with several other new essential skills that will allow them to be more effective at their jobs. There are many prominent 360-degree leadership inventories that can be used to help measure effectiveness. As an organization, consider this frame to guide what competencies to focus on as hard essential skills.
1. Intrapersonal: Leaders need to “know thyself,” which includes understanding what makes them tick, and how they can continually develop self-efficacy, responsibility, awareness and autonomy of thought.
2. Interpersonal: Leaders also need to become masters at great communication and building a rapport across their teams. This includes striving for better interpersonal communication on each project or process, as well as building a team on trust and integrity of word.
3. Adaptability: This area in the frame relates to essential competencies of critical thinking and problem-solving. Leaders must be aware of multiple perspectives and be able to take a high-level approach, while still being mindful of more minute details.
4. Engagement: Leaders must foster a positive environment that builds synergy among team members, making them more resilient to challenges.
5. Strategic: This area measures a leader’s ability to combine vision, benchmarks and evaluation to ensure the highest standards of the team are being met, as well as the ability to scan for blind spots and opportunities for innovation.
6. Highest Intention: Leaders should ask themselves, “What is my highest intention for my team, this project and our customers?” With this in mind, they can lead with curiosity, insight and social responsibility, instead of a self-centered reactionary approach.
7. Neuro-Navigation: With the speed and complexity of this information age, leaders need to be vested in the understanding of how to use their own brains to navigate each situation. I coined the term neuro-navigation because it’s the ability to understand how to navigate challenges using the brain.
8. Curious Intent: This area refers to a leader’s constant interest in the development and growth of their team. Leaders must stay curious about those they lead and their input, actions and success.
The new decade is shaping up to be one of many new possibilities and transitions. According to economists Robert Shiller and Mariana Mazzucato (registration required), there will be more collaboration between business and government in the coming year, and the global economy is shifting from a mechanical approach to narratives. This renewed focus on people and collaborations provides businesses with great opportunities to focus on building the competencies that are now recognized as key skills.