By Peter Montoya
You Need More Soft Skills
Why were you hired for your last job, or what made you hire someone? Impressive training, accomplishments, and certifications? Maybe not as much as you think.
Flip a coin. Heads you get hired based on your ‘hard’ skills (accounting, marketing, programming); tails it’s your ‘soft’ skills (boundary enforcement, communication, emotional intelligence, etc.). Think the odds are wrong? You’re right—50% for soft skills is too low.
In a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 57% of leaders said that soft skills are more important than hard skills. Yet how much are you investing in them?
While hard skills help you perform your role better, soft skills help you work better with others (leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management—the most desirable soft skills according to LinkedIn). Both are needed to succeed, yet soft skills often get left behind.
As the problems we face continue to magnify in size (in our jobs and as a species), it’s critical that we know how to self-reflect, improve, and work together more effectively. As leaders, your role isn’t just to fulfill job requirements; it’s to help others do their jobs as well and to uplift them where they stand.
A Tale of Two Employees
When I was running a growing software company, we were in desperate need of more software engineers. After interviewing dozens of candidates, two rose to the top of the pile. Both had solid resumes and great experience. One of the candidates had stronger programming skills, yet the other “felt” better during the interview. She had greater personal insights into tough questions like, “Tell us about a time when you were dead wrong at work,” “What is your personal growth plan,” and “Where do you need improvement to be a better employee.” Because of our needs at that time, we hired them both.
Even though the first candidate was a much stronger programmer, the second candidate was still with the company when I sold it three years later. Why? She was aware of her shortcomings, open to feedback, and actively worked to become better. In short, she had far superior soft skills.
Soft skills beat hard skills over the long term, every time.
The Benefits of Soft Skills
Soft skills are incredible because they translate to any field. Hard skills don’t. Mastering a piece of software makes you obsolete in a few decades. Mastering rapid-learning and skill acquisition will help you with any challenge, including new programs. Soft skills allow you to thrive in an ever-changing world. And they go beyond the workplace.
Ever heard someone say, “I’m a better romantic partner because of my programming skills”? Probably not. But if you invested in your communication skills, you’d be a better boss, employee, partner, parent, and friend.
We largely get hired, fired, retained, or promoted because of our soft skills. That’s because:
- We like people with more soft skills (we tend to fight for people we like, not people who we think are great at their job).
- Soft skills are much harder to train since many people don’t believe they need to change. (Ever tried telling a coworker they to improve their decision-making skills? How’d it go?)
Finally, humanity is facing many large challenges that may severely hurt the planet and threaten the future of our civilization. We all have a responsibility as individuals, families, and as a society to develop the soft skills necessary to work together and resolve these challenges.
Investing in Soft Skills
To truly thrive in your current job and in the world at large, invest in soft skills. We can help: we offer training, workshops, and speaking engagements. Our techniques are proven to increase motivation, productivity, and personal leadership. And just like soft skills, the benefits bleed into every aspect of our lives.
So make the coin flip win for you. Check out the soft skills we teach and improve your entire world.
Peter Montoya is the best-selling author of “The Brand Called You” and his latest books, “Meetings Without Walls” & “Leadership Power”. He’s also a sought-after and highly motivational keynote speaker and leadership development strategist, specializing in developing high-performance teams. To find Peter, visit www.PeterMontoya.com or call (949) 334-7070.