Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills

By Ngozi Adebiyi | 2 min read
26th May 2017
Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills

So we all get it- knowledge is important and technical skills are critical. It almost seems to be the qualification required to get the leader or c- suite badge of honour.  Once you're a technocrat you are guaranteed a sit at the table of higher expectation driven by performance- and for good reasons too.

To get and keep a job one typically needs a repertoire of technical skills. This has further fueled the inner drive to get the next degree, certification or executive education but the higher your cadre, the harder the challenge to translate these technical skills into leadership KPI's.

Soft skills are generally personal attributes or behaviours that are needed to build positive relationships with people. Some have termed it a discipline that is catching on globally as companies realise the importance of leadership capabilities and interpersonal relations in enhancing the bottom line.

Wikipedia defines soft skills as "associated with a person's 'EQ' (emotional intelligence quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people."

Investopedia defines hard skills as "specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured". So hard skills are more technical and function focused"

According to Lie Han, soft skills are more people skills (communication, team work and leadership skills) and self- management skills (awareness, confidence, resilience). From research there are three common myths about soft skills development -

Myth 1:  People are born with better soft skills than other- No they are not. They apply the now contested "10,000 hours rule" and just get better. Just the way muscles are developed from strength training, soft skills can be developed.

Myth 2: I have to be an extrovert to be good at soft skills- No you don't. Yes, extroverts tend to be more vocal, but they are by no means better at soft skills than introverts.

Myth 3 I am too old and too set in my ways to develop new skills- No you're not. This can be a limiting belief or just a plain old excuse for the most part.

Ironically, soft skills are not always taught in schools nor deliberately mastered on an ongoing basis but critical for promotion. Soft skills are often undervalued.

If soft skills have this level of potential and power it's important that these myths are dispelled.

In summary, the emphasis and focus may actually be from messages we send to our brains- hard is tough, it connotes rigor and straight talk and is required in the workplace while soft is fluffy, less tangible, cannot be measured and not suited for the workplace.

While technical skills may get your foot in the door, people skills open most of the doors. Your work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence are the soft skills that are crucial for success in the workplace.

When it comes to inspiring, connecting, leading and impacting, soft skills enable you excel as a leader.



-Ngozi Adebiyi is the Lead Consultant at OutsideIn HR- "We develop commercially astute HR leaders and equip business leaders employees to build an Ownership mindset!"

How we translate Value - http://youtu.be/Q53MzXSpd58


Ngozi Adebiyi
Ngozi is a Leadership & Career Coach who is passionate about people. Her experiences with business leaders and employees across organisations can attest to her unique passion in Human Resources & Consulting with the following qualifications: *Certified Professional Coach, iPEC Coaching, USA & Member, International Coach Federation Nigeria Chapter *Energy Leadership Index (E.L.I.) Master Practitioner Certification; iPEC Coaching, USA *Global Professional in HR (GPHR) certification from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), USA *Mentee, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in Business *MBA, Mercer University, Atlanta and *BSc in Estate Management (second class upper) from the University of Lagos -Lead Consultant at OutsideIn HR & Career/Leadership Coach @ OutsideInCoach. Focus is on practical interventions that address the challenges of businesses today. We specialise in HR Business Partnering & Leadership Development with the goal of revolutionising HR in Nigeria & consciously unleashing inner greatness! Her specialty ; *HR Business Partnering, Career & Leadership & Coaching, Leadership Development, HR Consulting & Advisory , She is passionate about developing commercially astute HR leaders and equipping business leaders to build an Ownership mindset across the workforce *In her spare time she is involved in charity work for underprivileged kids and enjoys reading & running (#DubaiMarathonFinisher #MountKilimanjaroHiker) Previous roles -HR Director (Central Africa), Reckitt Benckiser -Head HR, KPMG Professional Services -HR Manager at Guinness Nigeria Plc (a Diageo Company) -She began her career with Arthur Andersen and worked for Wal-Mart, USA after Business School
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