Soft skills. You’ve heard the term, but what exactly does it mean? And, why does it matter in business? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, soft skills are no longer simply nice-to-haves. They’re pretty much the defining factor for success in the workplace.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Having sound soft skills paired with equally strong hard skills is the ultimate winning combination.  An internal study by Google found that it’s best teams weren’t the ones full of top scientists. Instead, the most accomplished teams were multidisciplinary groups including employees who brought strong soft skills to the table.

Soft skills are about the way we approach tasks. They influence how we interact with others and cover a wide range of skills from empathy to time management and decision-making.

In demand

Earlier this year, LinkedIn analysed the skills listed on the profiles of those who got hired at the highest rates. According to the professional networking site (with over 300 million active users) the most in-demand soft skills are;

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The softly softly approach works

As our working landscape continues to change, never before have strong soft skills been so important to the workforce. Soft skills are universal. They are relevant to every individual in every pay grade, in every business and in every sector.

Organisations depend on their people. Good communications and collaboration are critical for business success.

When your soft skills are developed, they make it easier to interact with others, take initiative, create trust and lead teams.

So what impact does this have on an organisation?

  • More effective communication both inside and out
  • Stronger leadership and accountability
  • More efficient processes as a result of better time management
  • Problem solving is no longer ‘a problem’ as staff learn to see different perspectives
  • Critical thinking emerges
  • Productive teamwork and collaboration

In essence, soft skills provide you with a motivated, dependable workforce that will sustain your organisation.

Mind the gap

Interestingly though, the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, identified a shortage of 1.4 million people when it comes to communications skills. Employers recruiting on LinkedIn are searching for skillsets potential candidates don’t have, or, don’t know they have.

It’s possible we don’t know how to big up our soft skills in job applications because

  • we don’t know how to measure our soft skills
  • we’ve never had any formal training in soft skills.

The gap effect

As our working landscapes continue to change at the rate of knots, people must adapt too. Businesses need employees with soft skills to remain competitive and profitable.

Lack of soft skills among a workforce results in

  • increased workload for other employees 
  • poor quality standards
  • outdated processes
  • loss of business to competitors
  • delays in introducing new products.

As technology continues to reshape our lives,  strong soft skills are absolutely crucial. The one thing a machine can’t do is ‘be human’.

Good communication comes naturally to us all, doesn’t it?

Sadly not.

However, soft skills can be developed, cultivated and learned. Is it worth it? A million percent, yes.

If you assume your employees instinctively know how to interact effectively, you’re pretty optimistic. It’s a nice idea but workplaces are diverse and dynamic environments.  It’s very common to overlook the importance of skills like listening and being open to change.

And it’s not just employee relationships at stake, some of your workforce will be on the front line, customer facing.  It doesn’t get much more critical to ensure interpersonal skills are developed.

Leaving it to chance is not an option. Not when you see the transformative effect a workforce with sound soft skills has on an organisation.

A survey of over 500 executives found that emotional intelligence was a better predictor of success than either relevant previous experience or IQ. Soft skills are highly valued because of the importance of teamwork, collaboration, employee interaction and customer relationships in business.

About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you 

My services include: 

Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

Lisa Evans, MBA is the CEO of Speaking Savvy. She is one of less than 150 Certified Speaking Professionals in Australia. She is a Certified Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Certified Virtual Presenter, Accredited Business Coach (ICF), Author, TEDx Speaker Coach, NLP Coach, Graphic Recorder, Host and Curator of Stories From The Heart, and Improvisation Actor and Marketing Director at Perth Playback Theatre.