Soft Skills Leaders Should Develop

No one succeeds in a vacuum. Looking up and around, taking in the ideas and views of others and integrating them into your planning is the path to achievement, says Hamza Khan.


Soft skills, Khan says, enable leaders to develop open systems that thrive on input instead of closed systems that collapse in on themselves.  Open systems welcome feedback from diverse perspectives within and without the organization.


Khan follows the model of servant leadership, a philosophy that leadership exists at the bottom to serve the needs of its workers. “How you treat your employees is how they’re going to treat the customers,” Khan says.  “And it’s the customers who, when satisfied by that treatment, will ultimately reward the organization.”


To tap into the needs of employees, those in leadership need soft skills. Khan says attunement, resilience and creativity (ARC) are the three key areas to develop those soft skills.  Together, this “ARC” will form a framework for leaders to cultivate an open, productive and more successful environment.  



Attunement between a team and a leader is key.  It combines active listening and communicating, or literally tuning in to the needs of both the working team and the community at large.  To apply this soft skill to the workplace, Khan suggests those in leadership roles try a reverse town hall meeting.  Ask difficult questions, practice active listening and reinforce communication.  Creating a culture of acceptance will ensure that you receive honest answers.


Allowing space for these answers will reveal blind spots you may have about the organization and opens the door for fixing problems.



While attunement lies with the collective, resilience comes from within.  Khan looks at resilience in this context as “the ability to sustain productivity for the long haul.”


Why bother?  “Resilience can help to withstand the stress of change,” Khan says, adding that it can also help separate good stress from bad stress, “understanding that not all stress is created equal.”


Many companies falter during periods of change and when they reach maturity.  It is here that leaders encounter an inflection point: Renew themselves by changing or, as Khan put it, “tumble into the chasm of time” and lose their relevance.  Only resilient leaders, Khan says, can navigate into the future.



Opening lines of communication generates a free flow of information that fuels creativity.  Like any other leadership soft skill, creativity can be developed and nurtured—and must be for leaders to create and communicate their vision and for organizations to innovate and thrive.


Creativity can come in many forms.  Sometimes, it’s about looking at something from a new perspective.  Challenge preconceived ideas and structures, shake up established routines and troubleshoot weak points.


Although it sounds counterintuitive, Khan suggests engineering chaos in the workplace by brainstorming all the pitfalls that can occur and considering options for rectifying them.  “You know, organizations are really good at doing post-mortems after the fact, [where you] sit down and talk about why something didn’t work out,” he says. “But what if you did the opposite?”



I Power Seeds

Here are our takeaways and thoughts - pause and reflect, then nourish and grow!

I liked how he summed it up:


Attunement allows you to identify strengths and weaknesses,


Resilience will enable you to accept these and move forward, and


Creativity will spark the solutions.


Good luck.

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