March 22, 2021
Successful business leaders have a strong foundation of technical knowledge and real-world industry experience. Just as important to their success, though, are soft skills. Developing and demonstrating these skills early in one’s career can contribute to faster professional advancement.
While business professionals can pick up certain skills by working in the field, mastering business soft skills while earning a degree, such as an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, can benefit them in many ways. Building a firm understanding of business practices while simultaneously developing the skills necessary to implement them can help equip individuals to take on leadership roles.
In every industry—from healthcare to construction—employees and staff members look to business leaders to articulate a company’s vision and mission. Leaders should create a business plan and motivate individuals to meet their short-term and long-term goals. By incorporating business soft skills in their workdays and conversations, they cultivate positive and productive work environments.
Promoting collaboration among employees is one way business leaders can foster a positive work environment. Encouraging staffers to voice their opinions and ideas about a new product can unleash creativity and innovation. If a team is struggling to make a decision about a brand logo, for example, inviting feedback from others can provide a fresh perspective and help generate new ideas. Collaboration also helps new and seasoned employees feel connected because they have the opportunity to contribute to the creative process.
Across industries, communication is one of the most essential soft skills for business leaders. As a practical matter, strong verbal communication is important when it comes to providing a direction for a certain program or project. A leader who assembles a team to create a marketing campaign should provide a clear vision upfront so all team members understand how the company wants to promote the product.
Clear verbal communication, using intelligent and professional language, is essential for productive conversations with employees. Written communication is also important, as sloppy writing, confusing content, or unclear directions can lead to misinterpretation by staff.
Leaders should also be active listeners. They should be receptive to the ideas, concerns, or complaints of employees to promote a safe environment or prevent conflict.
Delegation is one of the most essential business soft skills leaders can employ. While leaders are tasked with considerable responsibility, they should be careful not to become overburdened, risk getting burnt out, or have insufficient time to devote to each project.
Delegating tasks to employees allows a leader to commit more time and energy to fewer projects, which can lead to better, more thoughtful results. Moreover, distributing responsibility throughout the office demonstrates to employees that their boss has faith in them, boosting staff morale and motivation.
Working in the same environment every day can draw employees closer together as they share information about their personal lives and families. Individuals may go through difficult experiences, such as losing a loved one or navigating a divorce. Business leaders should be able to demonstrate empathy for employees who are in distress or grieving and provide them with the support they need.
Exhibiting emotional intelligence should be on a leader’s mind during regular conversations and interactions with employees. Delivering bad news—such as the need for budget cuts or layoffs—should be done tactfully and thoughtfully.
While employees generally have certain skill sets that qualify them for their jobs, they will always benefit from having a growth mindset. By attending training sessions, employees can develop new skills, discover more effective practices, or learn how to use new technology. By investing time and resources in training and development, leaders can help their employees overcome challenges or inspire positive changes in the workplace.
A leader can’t personally mentor every employee, but offering a mentorship program—in which senior staff members guide and regularly check in with junior staff members—can benefit a business in many ways. Experienced individuals can help newer employees in major and everyday tasks—from using a certain software to sharing important information about long-term clients. Mentors can also help cultivate an environment that values relationship building among employees.
Problem-solving is another essential business soft skill. Leaders should be able to approach workplace issues and conflicts and analytically work through them. If a leader thinks about a seemingly minor issue in the context of a larger ongoing or organizational challenge, they’ll know to address the larger problem to solve the smaller one. Soliciting the input of staff members regarding an issue demonstrates a leader’s willingness to hear multiple perspectives and not make decisions unilaterally.
Leaders carry a lot of responsibility in the business world. Successful leaders understand the importance of delegation, communication, and mentoring, among other skills, and share responsibility with others. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists,” as Lao Tzu once wrote. “When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
If you’re interested in pursuing a business career and want to develop essential business soft skills, learn more about LSU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Explore how the online degree program can help you establish a strong foundation in business principles while also equipping you with the tools you need for a successful career as a business leader.
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