Empowering You For Leadership No. 2

Every week I select two articles I have read during the week that I think were the best of the week for me. I share them with you.
Leadership Readings No. 2

Even talking about “Soft Skills” makes some people see red. It never ceases to amaze me how strongly some people feel about the use of that terminology. Yet every major professional and business international journal and key newspapers like The Washington Post and the Australian Financial Review, to mention just two,  all talk about soft skills. HR, recruitment companies and leaders themselves constantly talk about the difficulties of finding people who have the right soft skills. Those who oppose the terminology come up with a range of other ways to describe these skills that are equally problematic.

I’ve been working in this area since 2008 and at that time if you typed “soft skills” into Google search there were a page and a half of references to it. Today there  are 521,000,000. Yes, in the millions  ++++

Part of the problem is that many don’t really understand what “soft skills” are. They seem to be able to easily identify when someone in their workplace lacks them. They also seem to be able to pick up in interviewing for new positions whether the applicant has them or not. But they can only state in general what they are. This makes it very difficult for the person who is told –  “You need to work on your soft skills” – to know exactly what they need to work on, not to mention the how.

For me, soft skills are the skills that develop and enhance out personality, behaviour, attitude and mindset. They are the skills that see us able to relate well to and effectively work with others. They are people skills and interpersonal skills, but they are much more than that. They are the skills that help us manage our lives effectively and confidently and achieve self-mastery.

Specifically they are different for different groups of people – different for those moving into the workforce for the first time; different for new graduates who have just completed a university qualification; different for people of varying cultures and races who want to work in a specific country; different for new managers.

My work is predominantly with leaders and the soft skills they need for leadership, with an emphasis on self-leadership. They are the skills they need to lead in these changing and unpredictable times. I believe they are skills that help them lead from within. The 7 skills I believe they need are – self-awareness, resilience, emotional intelligence, pro-activity, high energy, work/life integration and the ability to build connections and relationships.

The two articles I have chosen this week fit into that – one on the importance of empathy which is part of being emotionally intelligent. The second is about what I call resilience.

Personal Leadership Skills – It’s tough to lead others when you can’t see things from their perspective.

By Govert van Sandwijk, Executive Coach and Managing Partner of Time To Grow Global

This is about empathy, that ability to see things from another’s point of view. It is a very important soft skill for leaders. There is an example in the article of a leader who shows no empathy towards an highly motivated employee who wants to make a difference in his organisation and make his leader’s own job less arduous. Important as it is, empathy is rarely talked about, let alone taught , in business school.


3 psychology secrets to become mentally strong

By LaRae Quy

The writer worked as a FBI agent where being mentally tough was essential to success in his job. He discovered, however, when he retired that mental toughness was needed to manage the issues that came up in his day to day life. He says “Mental toughness is misunderstood by many people. Too often, it is associated with a hard-headed mindset that refuses to yield when circumstances change.” He says “that’s not the full picture, though. Mental toughness is the ability to manage your emotions and control your thoughts and behavior in ways that will set you up for success.”

I call this mental toughness, resilience and I use this image below as a poignant way to help people understand what it means.

Resilient, mentally tough brainIf you have read my e-book “Lead from Within”, for which you were given a download when you subscribed to my blog, you will have seen my chapter on resilience which speaks a similar message to LaRae’s.


If you have areas of interest about which you would like to know more, contact me here are let me know.

Leave a Comment