Where do people learn the soft skills of management?

Share this content

March 13 – Business, for me, these days rarely revolves the issues for which I was trained. Those years of effort learning accounts, tax, auditing, management accounting (and maths to go with it that I have never once ever heard of anyone using) and so on are largely a distant memory. I often wonder as a result whether we all get promoted beyond our pay grade to the point of incompetence and that maybe I have. My only solace on that is the continuing survival of this company.

But it does beg the question – why aren’t we taught the soft skills? I know accounting training has changed a lot since I did it – but not I gather to encompass the real skills needed in business and which we’re told that in the UK we’re so bad at.

Where are people meant to learn them? I ask in all seriousness – it’s something I may want the company to invest in. 


Please login or register to join the discussion.

13th Mar 2012 21:37

No courses for it

Soft skills are ridiculously difficult to learn.  A lot of it lies in inherent personality.  You can manipulate/persuade (delete where applicable) people or you can't.  I have an employee who is fine in all technical aspects, but they just lack a certain something which is completely undefinable, but soft skills is a good description.  

It's about empathy, the ability to be in a conversation/discussion and be able to see things from the point of view of the other person.  I think it's the kind of thing you learn in your family/school upbringing and not in lessons, but in the way you learn to interact.  You can teach people how it works but unless it comes naturally, it's not worth it.

Thanks (0)
14th Mar 2012 11:36

It can also be developed...

Everything that MM has written on the root of soft skills is, in my view, absolutely correct.


However, I do believe that they can be developed as well. The greatest way, in my experience, of developing in soft skills is through reflection of what is, and isn't (often more obvious to our critical eyes!), working for others who we interact with. This is particularly true if working in a larger organisation and there are more senior colleagues who one is able to observe in action and review how they go about their business.


I think that this helps to then broaden one's own perspective on soft skills, and enhances understanding of what are sometimes the little things that can go a long way to smoothing day-to-day dealings in business.

Thanks (0)
By buggd
14th Mar 2012 11:47

Everyone needs these

Is this not true of everyone, in every job.

Perhaps we should be taught this at school.

I had two bad role models when I stated my career, and then one, who taught me some very good soft skills. (Others will judge if he was successful).

It is not helped by television programs, like "Weakest Link" and to some extent "The Apprentice" where humiliation seems to be an appropriate way to treat people.


Thanks (0)
14th Mar 2012 13:35

I had some group come into my old workplace and run through some soft skills training - people were put in groups, and asked to work on a problem, and then feedback was given.

I found it very helpful because they explained that I talked too quickly, and wanted to move along in the meeting too quickly, and was rolling over people rather than getting agreement.


As a result, I talk more slowly when dealing with people, and check more frequently to see if they agree, and things go a lot better. I think you do need someone external to run these sorts of courses, and act as moderator so that people don't feel criticised or judged.

Thanks (0)
By hartley
14th Mar 2012 18:23

soft skills

try www.businesssoftskills.com for video lessons

Thanks (0)
15th Mar 2012 04:51

Over-promoted? No!

Take a moment to reflect and look back at where the company was when you first joined and how it is now.

When I think of all the things you have shared with us I KNOW you have achieved a lot.

And some of these things did require you to use soft-skills. You did need to inspire and influence and persuade rather than expecting people to automatically see things from your viewpoint and follow in blind obedience.

But now...

The company has reached a relatively steady state so it is easy to start to slip into a mind set of management and command rather than leadership and persuasion. Consequently, you apply these soft-skills in some situations where it is obvious that you need to, but not automatically in all circumstances.  Since you are the CEO this also ends up impacting on the culture within your company. And sometimes, as shown last week, this ends up with unintended consequences.

At a personal level - I would suggest you have 2 sources of advice immediately available - your wife and the chair. The mere act of talking to them will start to make you think constructively about how you are interacting with the people around you, and where your interactions could be improved and how. If you need more than this, I  am sure the chair will be able to recommend suitable training.

I would also recommend 'Corporate Culture' by Jerome Want which includes excellent chapters on addicitve behaviours of workers and managers within the culture, and on leaders and corporate culture. Since you are the CEO, the ways you behave and interact with people affect how the organization as a whole behaves.




Thanks (0)
15th Mar 2012 09:44

Mentoring - a wise colleague/ boss

I watched some of the 'leaders' when I was at school and in my early working years I tried to emulate their behaviours - which was not my finest hour.  The problem was twofold - my perception of what those good 'leaders' did and didn't do and more importantly my ability to copy that behaviour effectively - because behaviours are normally based on a mindset - which was substantially more difficult to understand fully let alone emulate. 

Reading, reflection and feedback were what moulded my 'soft skills' into something more effective and useful. 

I started meeting monthly with a mentor and thinking critically about my behaviours and the mindset behind them.  I was also encouraged to read and discuss different theories and frameworks of 'soft skills' which gave another standard against which to measure my and other's behaviours. 

Imagine the competitive advantage which could be created by a company where this kind of mentoring was practiced across the board!  Imagine a place where the 'soft skills' could be directly attributed to bottom line impact. 


Thanks (0)
By The CEO
15th Mar 2012 16:52


Comments appreciated

Mentoring it is then....

Thanks (0)