“Touchy Feely” – Soft Skills The New Thing for Charismatic Leaders?

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Well, not in quite the way you think of “touchy feely”. Being overly emotional has never been the ‘in’ thing at work. However, what is now ‘in’ is the recognition that soft skills (tact, accepting feedback with grace, speaking respectively in meetings, listening to other’s opinions, etc.) are just as important in the workplace as hard skills such as finance and accounting so says an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled on the Lesson Plan: Feelings. The article discusses how business schools are working to integrate soft skills into their business curriculum.

Successful leaders know that emotional intelligence, social etiquette, people skills, following the Golden Rule or whatever labels are attached to empathetic behavior, is a career maker or a career breaker. People don’t get fired because they can’t do the work, they get fired because they can’t get along with their team mates.

As managers move from the hard skills required in project management into the soft skills required for performance reviews, their artistry in conversation, collaboration, and negotiation are paramount.

You need not get your group together and sing Kumbayah, but to move up the managerial ladder, you will need to:

1. Be aware of your emotions, acknowledge your emotions, and discipline your emotions.
2. Be sensitive to the slight variations in the emotions of others and respond in empathetic ways.
3. Use the art of questions to discover attitudes and opinions.
4. Understand basic negotiation techniques.
5. Learn to work and manage the emotions of the group to achieve intended results.

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