The importance of valuing soft skills in the corporate culture

Soft skills – the hard currency

It is a tough job being a leader today. First of all, you get bombarded with pieces of advice and recommendations about what you should do as a leader, how you should behave and not behave etc. The recommendations are all about the soft skills other people believe you need to have.

You also have to lead in a much more complex world than ever before. The cultural complexity is immense and the pressure on you to perform as a leader just hasn’t become smaller. In the old days, you could become and remain successful if you were professional and technical superior. Today it often has no relevance at all. There is a much greater focus on how you are as a person and on how good you are at motivating the people around you. It is not about you, but what you can make your team achieve. To achieve just that you will have to rely on the soft skills in the corporate culture. A strong corporate culture gives people confidence – not only the leaders but for everyone.

We know that a lot of leaders find that extremely frustrating. They are frustrated that their professional competencies and experience are worth so little and that everybody has the right to know better in any situation. Having no authority is a big issue for many leaders, not only the more senior ones.Relationshipbuilding - a soft skill

So to help you get over that frustration – if you possess it – we have created a list of 5 soft skills you will need to have in order to succeed as a leader in today’s world.

  1. Rely on your personality ( soft skills ) – not your professional competencies (hard skills) If you want to serve as a guide or lighthouse for other people you have to forget about your hard skills and focus on emphasising and utilising your personality – what some people call soft skills. Make your arguments with what you feel is right and not what you have been taught is right. As a leader, you will make a lot of unpopular decisions and it is after all, much easier defending those decisions you felt it was the right thing to do. People who base all their decision on facts are usually wrong – especially when it is decisions involving other people. And think about it. There are thousands of people with skills like yours, but there is only one with your personality. Your soft skills become your hard skills because they cannot be copied.
  2. Don’t try to be perfect
    The only way to avoid making mistakes is by not doing anything at all, which is pretty difficult if you decide to take leadership over something, isn’t it? So find peace with yourself that you will make a lot of mistakes. You either succeed or you learn. There is a certain level of arrogance to people who claim they are perfect. I am sure you don’t want to become that way. Beauty is in the imperfection. That is why we love art, other people, etc. The imperfection we see in others gives us confidence that we are ok as we are.

  3. Follow your heart, not your brain
    The ultimate soft skill is the ability to follow your heart irrespectively of what facts tell you to do. It is also called intuition. It is probably one of the most important characteristics of a leader – the ability to follow intuition. It is something you develop over time when you start realising that life is too complex and beautiful to fit into the frames of a spreadsheet.
    And when you do follow your heart, then please don’t be shy. Brag about it. It is the ultimate soft skill to possess and all the spreadsheet warriors envy you. They just don’t have the guts to admit it – yet.
  4. Brake the rules if you feel like it, As a rule, rules are made by insecure people (often politicians) who have very little confidence in the individual or the good in people. Have you ever witnessed what happens at a road crossing when the traffic lights go out? Surprisingly traffic runs much more smoothly because we suddenly get an individual responsibility. Let that be a reminder that applies to most rules. So if you feel rules are stupid then break them and see what happens.
  5. Don’t listen to everybody You have probably already realised how willing people are to give you advice on how to be a good leader (this article for instance). My advice is, don’t listen to them because they are not you and they don’t understand all the dilemmas you are in, not even if they try. Surround yourself with people who you disagree with. You don’t learn anything from people who are clones of you.


How was this list of soft skills in the corporate culture made?

This article is merely a compilation of notes I have taken over the years coaching current and aspiring leaders. Despite their differences in cultural backgrounds, ages, gender, professions, etc. most of them have the same doubts, the same frustrations, the same fears, the same aspirations and they all have the same ability to change the situation if it is uncomfortable. We always have a choice, ALWAYS.


What is yours?

We in Gugin will be happy to hear your thoughts, so please get in touch.





Dr Finn Majlergaard
Dr Finn Majlergaard

CEO Gugin, Professor, Keynote Speaker, Author

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