Why Tomorrow’s Leaders Will Be Better Than Today’s

Soft skills are crucial to leadership effectiveness. No revelation there. Leaders who lack soft skills simply aren’t as good at engaging their people or inspiring a high level of performance. And they certainly aren’t as good at getting things done through their peers. So how is it that many leaders still lack soft skills or don’t believe them to be important?
Over the next generation, that’s going to change. A growing body of research is making clear that children benefit greatly from being taught soft skills. Ultimately, this research will influence educational practices, and soft skills will become engrained in a critical mass of young people.
What has the research shown? One study, conducted by Duke University researchers over 10 years, found that teaching school-aged children soft skills – like self-control and working cooperatively in a group – resulted in significantly more pro-social behavior, less delinquent behavior, and fewer mental health issues. Adding empathy to the list of soft skills – being aware of and sensitive to the feelings of others – would only strengthen the effects, according to Dr. Neil Bernstein, a prominent psychologist who focuses on child and adolescent behaviors.
Don’t mistake soft skills with squishy, it’s-all-good, everyone-gets-a-ribbon, nobody-should-be-held-accountable thinking. Exhibiting soft skills is not incompatible with providing clear expectations, honest feedback, and accountability. It is a necessary part of the performance elixir.
Social change is a slow process. But have no doubt. Soft skills will become more pervasive and leaders will become more effective. That’s something all of us will feel good about.
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