Top 10 Essential Soft Skills to Develop

CoachHub · 2 June 2021 · 7 min read

Soft skills have become a must-have quality in today’s corporate world and among the most sought-after skills for business leaders, human resource personnel, and individuals looking for professional development or employment.

Soft skills are also termed behavioral skills, and they represent all the skills that human beings possess and apply in a professional setting. Some of these skills include stress management, creativity, and empathy. In addition, skills used as working techniques, such as teleworking, automation, and digitization, continue to evolve every day.

In the following sections, you will learn more about the most important and in-demand soft skills, and discover how you can improve various skills in your life to remain proficient in a highly competitive world.

Let’s get started, shall we ?

Soft Skills Definition: What Are They?

These are non-technical skills that influence how you work, interact with colleagues, manage your work, and approach problem solving. Some top-tier soft skills include listening skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, among others.

When it comes to recruitment, for example, a line manager or recruitment officer prefers candidates with soft skills. Employers believe that these skills help a person become more successful and valuable at the workplace. You can be outstanding with technical skills at work, but you may not accomplish much if you cannot work with a team or manage your time effectively.

Soft skills are highly mobile, regardless of one’s profession or position at work. They can be transferred from one person to another as well as be improved through practice.

Why Are Soft Skills Important ?

You may be wondering, “are soft skills essential, and why?”

Today, the world does not dwell or thrive on academic excellence. However, if there is still any importance in professional training, then soft skills tend to be the most sellable or rather desirable qualifications. And this is because our way of working continues to change by the day.

Adaptation to a change in technology, industry, career, or profession is possible through soft skills training. Because of lockdowns and restrictions of movements as a result of covid19, most people work remotely now. This has made them use their behavioral skills more, and it has proven to be more participatory and collaborative.

Michael Cage and Cadre Emploi carried out a survey study that discovered the following:

  1. 84% of company managers acknowledge the importance of soft skills.
  2. 54% use their soft skills more often than their hard skills, while 31% use soft skills more than hard skills.
  3. 70% of executives believe they have not utilized their soft skills effectively, while 62% of mid and senior managers would readily hire candidates based on their soft skills. The marketing and digital industries, for instance, consider soft skills as a prerequisite when hiring.

The above study proves beyond doubt that the human factor is crucial in promoting change and growth in a company. Remember, adaptability is impossible without teamwork, emotional intelligence, flexibility and resilience.

Soft skills seem to be a strategic tool that employers consider upskilling and reskilling as essential tools to improving employee skills, through professional coaching and training. It is highly profitable for an organization.

In a recent study, McKinsey found that 82% of business owners with revenue of over $100 million believe that reskilling is a solid solution for compensating for lack of skills in some areas.

Based on these findings, it is safe to say that the human factor is critical to an organization’s competitiveness. Also, they are highly flexible and can adapt to changes and crises. Therefore, companies should consider soft skills in the workplace as their major investment.

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How to Improve Soft Skills

As aforementioned, soft skills are acquired. It is true that some people are naturally creative, resilient, or empathetic and use these skills out of office. But anyone can acquire soft skills, develop and use them in the context of work, based on the company’s needs.

Therefore, soft skills are a crucial part of professional training objectives and became paramount as soon as they were involved in success at work.

Here are ways soft skills can be leveraged in a work setting:

So how can you learn soft skills?

The first accelerator of soft skills is business coaching. Reading, watching, and listening to essays or testimonials about behavioral skills is the best way to improve your knowledge and skills.

Remember, though, behavioral skills development needs tailored support, considering your personality and how you practice daily. Business coaching offers this kind of support.

But why you may ask

For one, in-company corporate coaching is financed and conducted at the initiative of the management. This will give you the support you need to develop yourself within the organization, and also help to build your trust in management and acknowledge their efforts toward your professional development.

In-company business coaching also offers customized support. Employees do not receive ready-made methods, but the training techniques are adjusted based on the needs of the employees—recognized and effective tools power business coaching for reskilling, such as GROW technique.

The Most In-demand Soft Skills

While there are many soft skills worth training, here are the top ten soft skills to consider. As you may already know, these human factors are related to work:

1. Resilience
Resilience is perhaps the most important skill to have, especially during a crisis or any change. With resilience, you can withstand a shock, learn crucial lessons from it, and forge forward. It is essential in order to master change management.

2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional skills represent the ability to understand, manage, and use your emotions in a useful way.  A survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that 71% of hiring managers value emotional intelligence over an IQ in an employee. 75% of employers are likely to offer a raise or promotion to an employee with a higher emotional quotient.

3. Problem solving 
This behavioral skill can be useful, especially in business. Mastery of this skill enables you to analyze a scenario, envision creative solutions, and make an informed decision afterward.

4. Creativity
The ability to think, act, and express uniquely. This includes individual variations or elaborations on existing or known methods. Professionals working in education, IT, Art, and Computer should possess this quality trait.

5. Assertiveness
This is the ability to express your feelings and thoughts appropriately and effectively, being confident and assured. It also means you can stand up for yourself without hurting others. If you can imagine a scale with timidity at one end and aggressiveness on the other, assertiveness is at the heart of the ground.

6. Stress management
Also known as stress tolerance, this skill helps you endure pressure and unpredictability without showing elements of hostility, bitterness, hopelessness, or any negativity toward yourself or others.

Stress management is an important virtue, especially for those that work remotely. Professionals in the fields of project management, administration, and customer service should have this skill.

7. Time management
Time management involves planning and practicing conscious control over a period allocated to certain activities to increase productivity and efficiency. Because time is limited, proper time management allows you to explore more opportunities, improve productivity, efficient conflict management, and better decision making.

8. Empathy
Indispensable to other skills like assertiveness or conflict management, empathy is the act of putting yourself in other peoples’ shoes, which in turn helps to defuse misunderstanding and tension. However, when expressing empathy, you also need to learn how to preserve yourself.

9. Collaboration
It is not always easy to collaborate with others, especially at work. However, people who think they can handle responsibilities alone without the help of others can create tension at the workplace and compromise overall efficiency.

Learning to work with other colleagues, trusting them, giving and embracing ideas is a challenging skill to master. Still, if you manage, it will provide you with a competitive edge over others.

10. Leadership
You can exercise leadership skills without managing others. With such skills, you can encourage others and lead them to success. Thus, the reason why it is a high-end skill. Individuals with exemplary leadership skills have an assortment of skills that are useful at work, including :

  • The ability to make effective decisions quickly.
  • Outstanding conflict and problem-solving prowess.
  • The tact to motivate oneself and others.
  • The spirit of collaboration, great communication, and time management is extremely important in a work environment.

Top 3 Skills for Senior Employees and Managers

The following behavioral skills will be particularly useful for leaders in the future.

1. Remote Management

Highlighted by the health crisis, remote management requires behavioral skills essential for any business, now and in the future.

2. Leadership

Leading and guiding a team is a skill that can be learned. A skill that has become all the more essential with the adaptation of teleworking.

3. Kindness

An article published by Harvard Business Magazine noted that kindness is quickly becoming the foremost skill that will significantly impact achieving goals and engaging with others. The good thing about it is that anyone can learn to be kind.

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