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Business Trends: The top 5 leadership soft skills of 2021! 

Business Trends: The top 5 leadership soft skills of 2021! 

Leaders should always be learning and acquiring new skills (especially in 2021) !

Research shows that the most successful people in life are lifelong learners. That is learners who carry on learning and developing themselves, long past their years of formal education.  

The saying that ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’ is particularly relevant right now. Amid the disruption of COVID-19 many of us have had to learn new technologies, adapt to new ways of working and even change our business models!  

But what else can we do to help future proof our businesses and our careers? Here are the top 5 leaderships soft skillswe think every manager needs to develop: 

WFH loneliness blog graphic

Personal Resilience 

As we face yet more uncertainty and ongoing restrictions, building resilience within yourself and your team should be a number one priority! 

It’s been suggested that up to 52% of remote workers feel more anxious when working from home. 

And another study by highlights the top three reasons why people are struggling with remote working. These are: 

  • 20% find it more difficult to collaborate and communicate. 
  • 20% feel lonelier. 
  • 18% are unable to unplug after work. 

So, here are some lessons we should learn from: 

Go above and beyond active listening and reach out to your team members. It’s important to encourage break outssocial interactions and connect with your staff on a personal level.  

With smart phones and remote working technologies, it’s sometimes difficult to disconnect. However, to be at our best we need to unplug and take time to fully recharge.  

On a final note, remember that resilience is not something we’re necessarily born with – it’s built up over time through learning and experiences.  

Emotional Intelligence 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and recognise our own emotions and those of others around you. 

But why is this important? Well, research shows that Emotional Intelligence accounts for 90% of what sets high performers apart from their counterparts with similar technical skills.  

But in the COVID-19 era when people are feeling deep uncertainty, having a high degree of emotional intelligence can help us to balance our emotions with rational thought and help us to recognise others’ emotional wellbeing.  

Not so long ago, emotional intelligence was often overlooked as a valuable skill but not anymore! According to Cary Cooper, “Hiring managers will need to start promoting and recruiting workers for their emotional intelligence, and not just their technical ability, as we move towards a post-coronavirus culture” 

Finally, please remember that emotional intelligence is something you can learn and is not always an innate ability.  

growth mindset blog graphic

Personal Development and a Growth Mindset 

The signs are that the job market is going to be very competitive in 2021 with the Furlough Scheme coming to an end and redundancies increasing.  

So, it is a great idea to re-evaluate and sharpen up your skills.  

To do this, think about the following questions:  

  • Do I know everything about the software and tools I use? Or would I benefit from learning more?  
  • Am I performing to the best of my abilities? Or are there areas where I need to improve?   
  • Is there a part of my job that I don’t enjoy? Why is that? And is there anything I can change? 

In 2021 all leaders need to possess a growth mindset. This is the belief that you can develop your skills and abilities through continuous learning and hard work 

During these stressful and disruptive timeshaving a growth mindset and a positive outlook will help you to focus on new opportunities. 

Here are 15 ways you can develop a growth mindset to help you get ahead. 

Collaboration skills  

Team collaboration is extremely important, even more so now we’re remote working. There’s no more brainstorming on whiteboards, asking questions across desks or offering help when you see someone struggling. 

Research shows that collaboration drives workplace performance, with people who work collaboratively spending 64% more time on a task. 

So, how can you inspire collaboration in your team when they’re not in the office?  

To collaborate you need to communicate and set a standard for staff teamwork. Create a development flow for projects and schedule time for team members to virtually meet plan, allocate work and discuss progress. Make sure that everyone is given the chance to contribute. In the online world it is much easier for people to be ignored.   

Connecting employees by creating a friendly, fun and creative work environment is essential to promote collaboration and teamwork. Consider utilising the whiteboard function on Teams to bounce around ideas. Or get creative - Canva has free, ready-made templates for creating mind maps and mood boards. 

People Management  

Good people management skills are crucial for good leadership. They help you build trust, co-operation and enthusiasm amongst team members. Developing your people management skills helps you better manage performance, give constructive feedback and delegate effectively. 

Unfortunately, redundancies, restructuring and adaptation will still be common themes in 2021. Where once we dealt with sensitive situations face-to-face, working remotely has made people management a lot less straightforward. Where we used to be able to discuss projects in a comfortable chair with coffee and biscuits, now that conversation could be over a slow internet connection from our kitchen.  

One thing that I have noticed over the last year is that nuances have decreased in my team conversations. What used to be considered witty and friendly in person can be a potential minefield in an email or a quick video chat. 

Building soft skills like active listening, showing empathy and conflict resolution should all be part of your people management toolkit. Making an extra effort to build this core leadership skill will stand you in good stead when managing a remote team in 2021. 

A final thought on Leadership soft skills for 2021 

Yes, it’s not easy being a manager especially during a global pandemic! But it’s situations like this where managers need to step up to the mark and take on more responsibility and this includes developing new skills.  

This list of leadership soft skills is not exhaustive! But, if you can commit to brushing up on them in 2021, you’ll be well on your way to managing an effective and successful team.  

You’ll also acquire in-demand core leadership skills, helping you to future proof your career.