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The most important soft skills for managers

Soft skills are especially crucial for managers, because in addition to their hard skills, they also have the responsibility of leading a team, making decisions, and much more. Managers don’t get the skills they need for this through further training in a specific, professional subject area, but rather through daily experience on the job.

Today, we will show you the most important soft skills that a manager should definitely master!

Before we get into the soft skills, these competencies can be divided into three areas:

Methodological skills

These competencies mainly help in problem solving. They are also the essential prerequisite for building hard skills.

Social skills

These skills help in dealing with other people. As a leader, this is very central. They are important in any interpersonal contact and determine how positive, sympathetic and harmonious the relationship or collaboration is perceived to be. Especially in times of hybrid working, social skills to maintain team cohesion are becoming increasingly important for managers.

Personal skills

These include soft skills that relate to one’s own person and help to be clear about oneself or one’s own goals and to constantly develop oneself.

In this blog, we will show you the most important soft skills from the areas presented. Be excited!

Methodical competence

Problem Solving Skills

The core competence of problem-solving skills can be summarized in one sentence: to recognize difficulties immediately, to react to them quickly and to find a suitable solution before further damage is done.

As you can see, problem solving is about and a process that consists of several sub-steps that build on each other:

I. Problem identification

Where there is no problem, there is no need for a solution. Therefore, it is all the more important to identify problems as quickly as possible in order to find a solution for them just as quickly. What is going wrong right now? Why has the desired result not been achieved?

In the beginning, the most important thing is to define the problem as precisely as possible and to find out where the root of the problem is. If you only scratch the surface of the problem, the solution based on it will also be superficial and the real problem will continue to exist.

II. Analysis

Ask the W-questions in the analysis:

  • Why didn’t we notice it earlier?
  • What is the reason that the problem still persists?
  • How could it have come to this?
III. Creativity

The important thing here is that you give your thoughts free rein and, above all, that unconventional suggestions are accepted. Albert Einstein already said back then:

“Problems can never be solved with the same way of thinking that created them.”

– Albert Einstein

Welcome any suggestion that might in some way solve the problem that has arisen.

IV. Implementation

After a solution has been developed, comes probably the most difficult part of it all – implementing the plan. You, as the leader, play a central role in this. During the implementation, other soft skills are important, which we will present later on.

V. Control

Most problems cannot be completely solved immediately with the first implemented idea. Therefore, control is the last but essential step of problem solving skills. Once you can see the effects of the solution, you will take next steps, adjust or change things.

Social competence

Communication skills

This includes: Contact skills, willingness to engage in dialogue, conversational skills, assertiveness, information sharing, conversational confidence, openness.

Distinct communication skills are shown not least in the way a person adapts to different situations and thereby slips into various roles: sometimes listener, sometimes advisor, sometimes critic, sometimes impulse giver.

The communication scientist and psychologist Paul Watzlawick formulated five principles, so-called axioms, for communication. The well-known one is probably:

“You cannot not communicate, because all communication is behavior, and just as you cannot not behave, you cannot not communicate.”

It is the best known of the five principles. As soon as two people connect, there is communication. Even if neither says anything. Even those who refuse to talk are sending a message.

Other principles of Watzlawick are:

“All communication has a content aspect and a relationship aspect, the latter determining the former.”

Communication is not just for exchanging information. Communication connects regardless of content. That is why the relationship aspect takes precedence over the exchange of information.

“The nature of a relationship is conditioned by the punctuation of the communication processes on the part of the partners.”

Each person constructs a subjective reality that arises from his experiences. This determines his actions. As soon as this person communicates with another person, both realities and values collide and lead to different reactions in each case.

Example: A manager criticizes his employeefor his lack of motivation. The employee, on the other hand, has no desire to work because the boss only criticizes and does not appreciate the employee’s work. Two different, subjective views in which neither is right.

People skills

People skills are the ability to understand a person as quickly as possible after the first encounter, or to correctly interpret and judge their intentions and future behavior.

The ability helps in every interpersonal relationship. The correct assessment helps you, above all, to establish a wavelength with the other person in order to build a healthy interpersonal relationship.

As a leader, you often interact with your colleagues. A good understanding of human nature helps you to know the needs of your employees and to actively respond to them. This allows you to create a good atmosphere within the team, while increasing commitment and motivation for employees to come to work and collaborate on important projects.

Personal competence

Adaptability

In the classical sense, adaptability describes the art of humans to adjust to new requirements of their environment.

Most of the time we have to adapt quickly to new things. Unpredictable things can happen in a professional context: A project doesn’t work out as planned. A co-worker quits unexpectedly or you can’t keep up with the completion of your tasks.

Another event that tested our adaptability was the Corona pandemic. The shift from in-office collaboration to a hybrid solution via communication platforms like Microsoft Teams was a new situation for many workers.

Such transitions catch most unprepared. Accordingly, the soft skills of adaptability are accompanied by other soft skills that are important for new alignments, such as flexibility, creativity, resilience, stress resistance and a quick grasp of the issues.

As a leader, adaptability also has a positive impact. If you manage to adapt your leadership style to the organization and your team, you will be more successful as a leader. Depending on the situation, you should be able to adapt your leadership style.

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