With a post-pandemic wellbeing mindset on the rise, as well as the influx of Generation Z into the workforce, many are starting to realise that a leader’s ability to utilise their soft skills is becoming increasingly valuable.
For the most part, hard skills are the ones that have been considered of greatest value to employers, simply because the word “hard” suggests that these skills are more difficult and complex to acquire. In reality, however, soft skills are ever-changing and ever-growing, and so can prove to be much more difficult to keep up with, despite the implied fluffiness of the word “soft”.
Soft skills relate to an individual’s emotional and cognitive capabilities: empathy, flexibility, curiosity, vulnerability…the list goes on. And what has been highlighted during and post-pandemic is that these skills are actually the most powerful ones to be harnessing, and if utilized correctly, can make all the difference in improving management approaches.
The International Institute for Management Development identified four key attributes for a manager to be successful in today’s workplace – and three of these were soft skills. This is largely due to the fact that we are seeing a new generation entering into the world of work with new mindsets, fresh perspectives and an openness that has not been seen in previous generations.
Gen Z are the first generation to have grown up with social media, an environment where expressing and sharing ones innermost thoughts and feelings is considered the norm. As a result, these younger workers will value the ‘power skills’ of honesty and vulnerability in their leaders and they would be more likely to respect a manager who is willing to openly share challenges they are facing.
A McKinsey Global Institute Report reflects this, predicting that global workplaces will see a 24% increase in the need for social and emotional skills by 2030.
So, vulnerability amongst executives is emerging as a highly beneficial quality, but the reality is that showing that vulnerability – especially for those leaders from previous generations – is not something that they are used to (or comfortable) doing.
However, a shift in mindset which views vulnerability as a powerful skill rather than an admission of weakness, is a great way to bridge the generational gap between executives and the younger workforce. And it is key for this to start from the top, so that it trickles down the hierarchy and settles into a refreshed workplace culture which recognises the ever-growing importance of these power skills.