It might be a little strange to begin talking about soft skills with a video which states that there is no such thing. However, Sinek here is mostly playing semantics. Whether you call them soft or human skills it amounts to the same thing. The video sums up neatly the point we made in the introductory paragraph to this page, technical training is well developed in most organisations, but it is left to chance that the person with the technical skill will also have the emotional competencies required to lead.
There's NO Such Thing as "Soft Skills"
Skills like effective confrontation, empathy, and patience are not soft skills. They are human skills, and they're hard. Organizations often overlook their best internal leaders because they don't place enough place enough value on these crucial interpersonal qualities. And as a result, company leadership suffers.
Soft Skills and Leadership Styles
The leadership styles that you find yourself using most often will be closely linked to soft skills you have most developed. For instance, if you are a person strong in empathy then it will be significantly easier for you to adopt a Caring style than someone who is weak in the same skill. As we have mentioned previously, neither the set of skills which you have nor the styles of leadership you use most often are set in stone. In fact, a genuinely great leader is a generalist, who rather than being overly strong in one skill or style, is instead able to deploy whatever leadership behaviours are most appropriate at any given moment.
The path to great leadership is then about identifying the styles and skills you are naturally strong in and leaning on these as you actively develop your areas of weakness. Through conscious introspection and purposeful self-development, you can become an exceptional leader in circumstances that right now would make you feel out of your depth.
A stark, and funny, example of being a successful generalist leader is watching Gordon Ramsay deal with professional adults in a kitchen versus amateur children. Whether you agree with his style of leadership or not, he is clearly adapting it to suit the situation. You can also use this as an example of the consequences of using the wrong style in the wrong situation, imagine the situations were reversed and he was comforting a professional who had burned a steak, not only would it feel patronising, but it would actively slow down the preparation of a replacement steak. It is probably not best to dwell on the image of him screaming obscenities at children.
Gordon Ramsay with Kids vs Adults
If you've ever fallen into the black hole that is reality cooking TV then you'll know that Gordon Ramsay is a fiery and intimidating character. He adopts a fierce persona when dealing with adults but when dealing with children, he takes an entirely different approach.
Essential Soft Skills
Below is a download link to the Growth Leaders course appendix on soft skills. It contains what we believe to be essential soft skills for a 21st century leader. You may find some appeal to you more than others, and you may even develop your own entirely different set. But if you are new to leadership, or are taking on more responsibility then this is a good place to start.
Download the Soft Skills Appendix