Some of the skills that need to be acquired can be labeled “hard skills” and others “soft skills.” “Hard skills” are often thought of as the occupational skills essential to completing a practical job. For instance, a database administrator needs to know how to use relevant software to create applications; a web site developer needs to understand how to develop and maintain a website. All organization leaders should probably master expert hard skills like managing projects, making presentations, and chairing meetings. In general, organizational leadership also has its own set of technical skills, such as integrating data, making timely and informed decisions, setting goals and priorities and seeing situations from a broad organizational perspective.
In many cases, workers haven’t had much exposure to enterprises other than their own. As a result, part of their leadership community should understand what other departments or offices do and how they are connected to their own. Also, they need to study their organization’s relationship to its broader environment. Hard skills are about getting the work done. The tendency is for these skills to be oriented toward managerial and technical specifics.
Soft skills make the distinction between a job that gets done and a job that gets done remarkably well. However, soft skills are far harder to develop and pass on. Yet, they are the key to influencing other people to follow you. Both types of skills are essential, and effective leadership requires a dedicated approach to mastering both. “Soft skills” can be seen as people’s actions as they go about their professional tasks.
- How does the development expert interact with a business prospect?
- How does one team member work with another team with whom he or she is encountering conflict?
- How much expertise does the person have in leading a team?
On the behavioral side, leadership requires an extremely high degree of skill in working with and for others, holding others responsible for their duties and leading others to accomplish the leader’s vision. It cannot be considered that employees being prepared for new leadership roles will be skilled in building the network of relationships crucial to effective leadership. Furthermore, these relationships should go beyond the firm and into the organization’s larger domain of activity in the region or community it serves.
Unfortunately, many leaders fail to adopt a concern for human relationships within the firm. They keep themselves busy with non-leadership tasks, such as maintaining their staff or volunteers’ work. For example, this occurs when the CEO insists on analyzing every response to inquiries, or when Board members micromanage the growth organization’s activities.
The more one’s role involves administration, the more the job must focus on combining the technical and the behavioral, the technical and the interpersonal, the hard and the soft. If you cannot perform this internal balance, your firm will suffer an imbalance. This balance can be tough because many people label themselves by their ability to be specialists in their occupational skills while viewing behavioral skills as secondary or incidental. In economic development, much more attention is paid to professional skills such as working with an existing business, marketing, social networking, etc. Because of this, especially concerning leaders, traditional “soft” skills are harder to get right.
Changing a leadership style is more difficult than acquiring technical skills. A leader doesn’t have the convenience of behaving only for himself/herself. He or she must also be a good role model for others. Many leaders fail or fail to develop because they are lost in an old mindset and continue to act primarily for themselves.