« Trust and Teamwork in Leadership | Main | Extreme Leadership Development »

There is Nothing Soft About Soft Skills

What comes to mind when you hear the term “soft skills?” Do you think of them as hand holding and public hugs? Do you scoff at the thought of giving up time from “critical” work to learn some “soft skills?”

I thought about that question after reading Amy Joyce’s article in the Washington Post entitled Handling the Reins – Some Managers Foster Growth to Harness Employee’s Potential. In her article she talks about the value many managers put on employee training, much of it being in the category of the “soft skills.”

As an educator and consultant, I am the foremost proponent of “soft skills,” but hate the term. There is nothing soft about “soft skills.”

A few weeks ago I was at Maxwell-Gunther Air Force Base teaching supervisory and negotiation skills to a great group of people. As is typical, a senior manager opens up the class with a little about the purpose of the course. When this particular person mentioned that the skills were the “soft skills,” I heard a groan from the audience. It got me thinking….

If I told you that the skills I would be training you in today would enable you to effectively monitor and program a multi-trillion dollar piece of equipment would you call it “hard skill” or “soft skill?” What if I told you the techniques we learned in the class would give you the ability to leverage the computing power of a processor more powerful than ten thousand high end servers, would that be “hard” or “soft” skills? And if I told you the training would allow you the use of steps to prevent the crossing of wires and data that could conceivably shut down the entire interaction between two of these amazing machines, would you consider that a “hard” skill?

You’ve probably figured out by now I’m talking about human beings, not computers. In my experience, there is nothing more powerful, complex, or difficult to manage than a person! Sadly, there are no instruction manuals or help desks to call. Most managers are on their own, entrusted with these valuable resources, and haven’t the first clue on how to get them going. And some have the nerve to laugh at “soft skills.”

I submit that anyone can sit through a course or read a book to learn “hard skills.” It takes commitment and courage to learn the “soft skills.”

If you’re a critic, get over it! Learn all you can about the REAL important resources. If you commit yourself to the task, you’ll never again refer to them as “soft skills!”

related entries

2 Comments/Trackbacks

The development of softskills are so absolutely important. These essential skills are those that enable employees to participate as a member of the Team, faciliate teaching others, Enables higher levels of service to Clients / Customers, Exercises and grows the process of Leadership, forms the framework for effective negotiation, and permits our organizations to create an environment celebrating cultural diversity.

Jim, I like the way you refer to them as "Essential Skills!" A much better term than "soft skills" which immediately results in eye-rolling!

Malcolm Munro

submit a trackback

TrackBack URL for this entry:

post a comment

Name, Email Address, and URL are not required fields.

Comment Preview

« Trust and Teamwork in Leadership | Main | Extreme Leadership Development »


Related Resources

sponsored ads


Prefer Email?
Subscribe below-

Current News

Support This Blog

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!

business social media

Use these fast growing business social media sites to promote your business, feature your products, spotlight your business leaders, create links, and drive traffic back to your company site, all for free!

we support unitus