Investing in your leaders
This post is about investing in your leaders, todays leaders and tomorrow’s leaders with both Soft Skills and Meta Skills.
So often what I hear from HR, is that their new hires appeared technically skilled and proficient, but once onboard they find that many lack the ‘soft skills’ that bring benefit to the culture they have built. Hiring today is not just about one’s ability to do the job, it’s also about their ability to fit into the culture and be an asset in the bigger picture view. Often new hires lack personal leadership and the standards of integrity and excellence that the organization strives to both build and attract. They lack the ability to build camaraderie and work together as a team. They can even lack the awareness to see their own deficiencies and to accept feedback as a tool for growth. Sound familiar?
I am often asked, “how do we ask better interview questions to weed out those who are not a good fit?” We get it. Hiring, onboarding, and training are time consuming and costly. But what if we are completely off focus with the question here? What if what really needs to happen, is organizations need to groom their culture into the employees with all that they do? I notice organizations claiming they have this amazing culture and when I ask them how they live it, how their leaders model it, and how they cultivate it into the workplace, they go blank.
As I explore this topic with HR and their leadership team, I seek to understand their mission, vision, culture and the atmosphere they desire. I seek to understand their current model of integrating their culture in all they do. It’s way too easy to see the faults in others, to see where they don’t fit in and this may just be the view that fogs our lens. This black and white view point is an undesirable left-over from the old paradigms and often the cause of many conflicts.
I offer that you entertain a bigger question. one that looks something like, “How can we do a better job to bring our culture into all we do and serve our employees in developing the inner skills that foster confidence, engagement and empowerment?”
Today organizations see the struggles in managing change; they recognize the stress, lack of resilience and even the limited coping skills required to function efficiently. We all recognize the mental health pandemic, addiction crisis and lingering damages of the pandemic. All the while, leaders struggle with constant demands, continued resistance and problems on top of necessary decision making. All this, in addition to the massive outward advancements in digital technology, with hardware, software, gadgets, apps, and IA developments progressing at such a fast pace, it’s clear that humanity is not evolving to keep pace. Mandating that HR rushes to fix the issue. Investing in growth and development seems to be exploding since the pandemic. What’s working?
Organization are striving to offer more in the way of personal and professional development. Large organizations are developing their own programs or investing in online, in self-guided study. There are pros and cons to this approach. Some HR departments are developing these new programs themselves, to help employees, and shift the corporate culture; yet, many are unable to see the full picture. Most of the programs created within are self-study, self-guided and offer no assistance, accountability, or interaction. HR becomes blinded by their own pride and glory that they lose focus on how the program is received, applied, and integrated on an individual level. They lose focus in tracking measurable results and working to bring the learning into real working situations.
Let’s face it, a mentor can only take you as far as they have gone themselves. What are HR professionals doing to continually grow, learn, and expand themselves? It’s hard to take directions from hierarchy that doesn’t practice what they preach. Employees want to see the leadership advancement in their leaders. They want to know that the training they are pushing isn’t just another aim at control, manipulation, and the exercising of power.
When we invest in the right growth we develop the soft skills and meta skills that provide us the awareness and understanding of both our role and interactions with others, we develop an ongoing desire for growth. We want to continue expanding ourselves to new levels of leadership, consciousness, empathy, connection, and integrity. This is the investment organizations will need to invest in for future growth and to keep pace with the rapidly growing advancement in our technology and interconnectivity.
Here are four soft skills that will grow and empower every organization.
I call this one the pre-requisite to all soft skills. Without awareness is pretty hard to see, much less develop the other skills we may be lacking. With self-awareness we are able to observe how we show up in various situations as well as make appropriate changes where necessary. With social awareness we are interested, comfortable and open to the feedback of others as we learn of our shortcomings. Awareness extends into organization, business and political awareness.
Good communication skills include listening and observing as well as talking. First listening to oneself. Listening to the emotions, triggers, and resistance that we struggle with. Once we begin to master our ability to listen internally and deal with our own inner conflicts we build a new awareness to what it means to be human. Only then are we are then able to listen externally, to hear another. To fully listen to another is to listen to understand and not to merely respond, oppose or resist what another says. Imagine the benefits of listening in the workplace. Think teamwork, unity, and empowering others.
EQ is thought to be a mandatory leadership skill, as it is the ability to monitor, manage and master our own emotions and build healthy relationships. EQ influences how well employees interact with one another and how able they are to monitor, manage, and master situations; like stress, conflict and differences. A high EQ equates to higher job performance, satisfaction, and beneficial connections and interactions.
The thought of empathy in the workplace can raise eye-brows. We don’t usually think of love, caring and compassion as associated with the workplace and yet empathy is one of the most important soft skill we can develop, both in life and work. Empathy helps us read the situation and people, build trust, adapt as necessary, and connect in deeper ways. When a company culture encourages empathy it will attract highly engaged and caring employees.
While we continue to develop and expand our soft skills we’ll become more intimately aware of the meta skills. Meta Skills are those higher-order skills that allow us to better learn other skills and improve existing ones, Essentially, meta skills are the foundation for developing, cultivating and executing . Meta skills can cultivate a growth mindset to prepare us for lifelong learning to embrace new competencies in an ever-changing world.
When you promote these inner skills they will flourish and instill the motivation for continued advancement. You’ll build leaders with the ability to hold multiple perceptions in their awareness without an attachment or bias it any one. You will cultivate leaders with the ability to see a bigger picture view and connect the dots. And those leaders will have the power to spot blocks and pain points in the current problems while maintaining focus on solutions and desired outcomes. The most impactful meta skill I recognize is the awareness to find meaning and purpose in the work we do. While there are many other meta skills to expand upon in leadership advancement, they all bring forth authenticity, adaptability, accuracy and a 360 awareness that is admirable and empowering. These inner skills are what’s desired and required in crafting a people centric culture where workplace wellness and empowerment is #1.
Chances are you won’t be finding these soft skill and meta skills in the new hires just yet, you’ll be developing them from the inside out.
Thanks for reading. If you find value in this article and wish to learn more, reach out.
Written by: Donalee Gastreich