Leadership Tips: Soft Skills for New Managers
If you’re new to a leadership role of any kind, building your skills with these leadership tips is the key to success.
Someone higher up has recognized your skills and expertise. You’ve taken a big step forward on your career path, regardless of where it leads. But you’re still a new manager! And although managers manage, good managers still benefit from having leadership soft skills.
If you’re like most people who make this transition, you’re probably a bit hesitant about whether you can do the job ahead effectively.
That’s because being the leader means taking on the bulk of responsibility. Questions spring to mind, such as
Soft skills are those common-sense skills that allow you to build relationships, communicate, and work well with others.
Unlike hard skills, or technical skills, you don’t necessarily have to possess deep knowledge about a specific topic or field. On the other hand, you do need to be flexible, emphatic, and have a great ability to deal with different personalities as individuals – no generalizations!
So if you’re not sure whether your soft skills are strong – or you’ve never had an opportunity to test them out – the following tips will help ensure your future leadership benefits everyone on your team. And that includes yourself!
Think about all of the bosses or supervisors you’ve had in the past. Chances are your favorites, and the ones you worked hardest for, were those who had real enthusiasm for their job, and encouraged you to be excited about your work.
Enthusiasm, creativity, passion, and even an optimistic outlook, are all contagious characteristics. So, if you want to get the most out of your team, show them what it looks like! Be the positive example, and others will follow your lead.
Empathy is one of the most important soft skills. It helps create better relationships. One of the best ways to develop and enhance empathy is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Everyone has a different perspective on all jobs, big and small. So, it’s essential to understand how your team members think in order to effectively motivate and lead.
For example, you may be able to tackle a big project at very short notice, but one or more of your team members may need extra time to develop a plan, research, and orchestrate the same task. Or perhaps you prefer to communicate what you need via email, while your employees may prefer one-on-one conversations so they can ask follow-up questions.
So always bear in mind that no two people are alike, especially when it comes to work habits and communicating, and proceed accordingly. You don’t have to change your entire working style to appease others, but it helps when you keep your team members’ preferences and personalities in mind.
A solid way to understand your team members’ work habits and preferences is to simply listen. One of the biggest complaints in the workplace from staff members across the board is that they’re not being heard. Your team members likely have ideas, valuable insights, or feedback on your delegation or leadership style. This is all essential information that will help you do your own job better!
So take time to listen, without judgement, and regularly ask for feedback. Being able to listen and handle constructive criticism effectively is a time-tested soft skill that others on your team will admire and appreciate.
Everyone on your team has their own unique set of skills where they can shine. Perhaps you have a staff member who’s super creative and loves to write or design. You may have another, though, who hates to venture too far outside the box but loves analysis and data-oriented tasks.
Having a wide variety of personalities and skills on your team can be initially daunting. But it’s actually a great thing for a leader! With so much variety, you can fill in gaps and have a stronger workplace – simply because people can shine in so many different aspects of your operations.
The key is to recognize these individualized skill sets and encourage your team members to use them. Pay attention to what your individual staff members excel at, as well as what they enjoy, and delegate accordingly. Every employee values being in your team when you allow them to shine on the job, regardless of their specific role.
Once you have all of the above soft skills in mind, you can start to delegate accordingly. But be sure to provide enough details to get the job done the way you want.
This leadership tip will vary by individual. Some of your team members may need more step-by-step instructions, or even mentoring through the task. Others may prefer to take a broad-strokes idea from you and run with it.
So bear in mind your specific team member’s needs and preferences, and then highlight the important aspects of any job or task you’re delegating (without going overboard). After that, you can trust your team to move forward effectively.
Remember that a little detail is helpful, but too much detail, instruction, or micro-managing can erode trust.
Above all else, if you’re new to leadership, or simply want a little help to ensure you’re doing the best job you can – even after taking these soft-skill leadership tips into account – it never hurts to garner some extra training!
We offer tailored leadership courses for just this reason. They allow you to reach your full potential both on and off the job. Contact us today to find out about our customized training programs designed for the workplace, and we can work together to ensure that, when it comes to being a leader, you’re the kind of leader that others want to follow.