To succeed in the modern workplace, business leaders must combine traditional management principles, like strategy and finance, with people-centric soft skills.
In fact, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), interpersonal and leadership skills are the skills most sought after by recruiters of business school graduates.
Dr. Steffen Raub is a full-time professor at EHL hotel schoolwhere MBA and Masters students learn traditional management theory alongside a practical, people-centered approach to leadership, preparing them to become the business leaders of tomorrow.
BusinessBecause I met Steffen, who teaches leadership development at EHL, to discover the five most important soft skills every business leader needs and how they are taught at business school.
At the top of the list of leadership soft skills, communication is key to the success of any workforce, and more critical than ever with a growing reliance on technology and virtual work.
Effective written and verbal communication will increase efficiency, advance problem solving and increase employee retention.
EHL uses a variety of methods to teach its students communication skills, and Steffen often uses case studies and practical applications to teach leadership skills. A practical application is a game called colorblind, where students are blindfolded and work in teams to decode colors on a table from limited information.
“That often leads to situations where people get frustrated, blow a fuse, and get angry,” says Steffen.
Steffen comments on their responses and teaches them to develop their communication skills based on what was and was not effective.
Another essential leadership soft skill is learning how to work with others and drive positive results as a team.
EHL cultivates teamwork in its courses. The color blindness test is based on teamwork and leads to lessons about the types of behaviors that help and hinder teamwork.
“I give them information about what’s productive in their interaction,” says Steffen. “What made their teammates angry? What had a negative impact and what were the positive behaviors to improve team morale and productivity? »
Empathy and emotional intelligence help create a more positive and productive work environment.
As companies embrace hybrid working, empathetic leadership is more relevant than ever. 80% of executives surveyed at Deloitte 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Research said wellness was important or very important to the success of their organization.
“I think an important soft skill is understanding what motivates the team,” Steffen says. “To defuse conflict situations in teams and make the right joke at the right time, or understand who needs encouragement rather than punishment.
“A CFO can sit down and analyze an organization’s balance sheet and then draw certain conclusions. Or, he can interact with a person and implicitly observe their nonverbal behavior and draw certain clues as to how they feel or what they are doing. he expects from you.”
Self-awareness will help in various areas of leadership, especially negotiation. Leaders must understand their desires and goals before making compromises with the multiple people they care for, such as customers, employees, suppliers, and other executives.
Being self-aware will help leaders be sensitive and allow them to accelerate their personal career goals while effectively reading a piece and promoting the wants and needs of their employees.
EHL, Steffen explains, helps students develop self-awareness through personality assessments and feedback.
“Soft skills are the ability to understand yourself a bit better based on feedback from the personality assessment or a coach we employ,” he says.
With the constant advances in technology and the impact of the pandemic, being adaptable to change is essential in a modern work environment.
To help advance student adaptability, Steffen uses a management simulation where students work for a large organization to adopt an important initiative.
Students organize meetings, lobby people, invite external speakers and involve people in training exercises. The challenge is to use the tools in the right order and to advance people’s attitudes towards project adoption.
“After every move you implement, you get direct feedback from the software that indicates whether it was positive or negative,” says Steffen.
For business leaders, being adaptable, self-aware, empathetic, working in a team and communicating effectively are invaluable soft skills.
EHL’s future leaders know that success in business depends as much on the fundamentals of a business plan as on the human orientation of their team and their state of mind.
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