As an entrepreneur in the professional training industry I have always found myself talking about the importance of soft skills, especially as we grow and develop throughout our careers. Everyone seems to agree with the assumption that these are “important” “crucial” “imperative” and requirements towards effective leadership and management.
The question therefore that comes to mind is why on earth aren’t schools focusing on these areas, why Universities do not deal with such topics in most curriculums and why are organizations not spending more attention? Well, the quick answers are that schools are still organized in the same way they were in the industrial age, University professors – in many cases – have never worked in the areas they are teaching, so it’s all about theory and organizational leaders do not train themselves after they reach a high position. They feel they do not need anything else when in fact this is the time to invest in themselves given that their leadership and decisions will affect a greater number of people and the sustainability of the business.
Organizations seem to ask for trainings in technical and knowledge areas (a new tax law, a new regulation, accounting standards, reporting, business intelligence, a new software etc.) but when it comes to spending funds on soft skills development, the feeling is that we ‘don’t need it as much”. But how can they transfer the knowledge from the technical workshops when they are not effective in handling meetings, they do not inspire, they do not communicate effectively and overall are afraid to listen?
Part of the reason is because the top leaders, as stated earlier, stop training themselves. They feel they do not need any further training, as everything they needed to learn has been gained experientially. Another reason is because they have no time. Many of these individuals even end of teaching others(!) on effective leadership, negotiations and other areas purely based on experience. Don’t get me wrong: This is possible and a good percentage of such individuals may be effective, however, many of the leaders in top organizations made their way up because they followed the simple hierarchy, played the politics required, maybe had the right “passport” or relationship required and did not make any creative disruptions. Furthermore, many professionals without such skills have (own) their own organizations, especially in the SME’s and never had to “fight” to get to where they are as no one actually appraised them and of course they won’t fire themselves if they do not do a good job! In essence, businesses seem to be neglecting some important areas when it comes to learning and development. Look out, there is a competency crisis out there but no one is really dealing with it, but before we express any more views, let’s start assessing ourselves for a change…
Bite Size Thoughts by Dr. Constantine 'Dino' Kiritsis