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SOFT SKILLS AND MANAGEMENT

After having extensively discussed about “hard skills” in these pages, I think that it is time to elaborate a bit on the “soft skills” that are necessary for a manager to properly accomplish her/his mission.

SOFT SKILLS FOR STAFF MANAGEMENT

To assume his various roles, the Director General of an organisation must demonstrate qualities such as integrity, self-control and commitment.

He must also have the ability to set objectives, and this must be done wisely since they must be ambitious, realistic and precise.

A good Director General must also be able to organize and plan the tasks to be performed, manage performance, control time, solve problems and deal with various contingencies.

But in addition to possessing managerial skills, he must also strengthen his interpersonal skills to motivate and retain his employees.

WHICH INTERPERSONAL SKILLS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

Among the fundamental interpersonal skills are the ability to establish a relationship with one’s collaborators, i.e. to exchange and communicate with them.

The Director General must also have the ability to listen in order to get to know and understand his team better.

This active listening is indeed a real source of leadership, because it allows to know how to motivate the employees and to detect potential demotivation.

To motivate everyone involved in the organisation’s activities, the Director General must also have the ability to generate the desire to improve, or the ability to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity.

To do this, it is important to make useful and constructive feedbacks so that the teams can move in the right direction.

But that’s not all, the Director General must also have the ability to influence and convince, to manage differences in perception, to manage conflicts, especially any emotionally difficult situation, and above all to foster team cohesion.

SOFT SKILLS FOR MEMBERS RELATIONS MANAGEMENT

In my opinion, one of the essential roles of a Director General is to establish a profound sentiment of trust and good communication between the members and the institution.

However, in a complex institution, which is welcoming members, partners and staff from all over the world, establishing the trust is not straightforward.

Indeed, establishing a trusted relation is a process that can be drastically different depending on the culture of the persons around the table, or collaborating in strategic activities.

The same problem, with the same root cause, applies for what regards communication.

This is clearly depicted in “The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business,” by professor Erin Meyer (INSEAD, 2014):

  • Trusting: task vs. relationship
    • Task-based: Trust is built through business-related activities. Work relationships are built and dropped easily , based on the practicality of the situation. You do good work consistently, you are reliable, I enjoy working with, I trust you.
    • Relationship-based: Trust is built through sharing meals, evening drinks, and visit at coffee machine. Work relationships build up slowly over the long term. I have seen who you are at a deep level, I have shared personal time with you, I know others well who trust you, I trust you.
Trusting scale according to Prof. Erin Meyer
  • Communicating: explicit vs. implicit
    • Low Context: Good communication is precise, simple, and clear. Messages are expressed and understood at face value. Repetition is appreciated if it helps clarify the communication.
    • High Context: Good communication is sophisticated, nuanced, and layered. Messages are both spoken and read between the lines. Messages are often implied but not plainly expressed.
Communicating scale according to Prof. Erin Meyer

As a conclusion to this very high level introduction to the impact of the soft skills, I will simply quote Dr Akhilesh Kumar Dwivedi:

“Technical skills may get you job, Soft skills can make you or break you as a manager.”

Dr Akhilesh Kumar Dwivedi, Soft Skills Coordinator from Manav Rachna University (MRU), Haryana State, India

Stéphane Amarger

Innovator by nature...

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