Leadership expert, Simon Sinek has a strong dislike for the term “soft skills”. He says that there is no such thing as soft skills only hard skills and human skills.
"Hard skills -The skills you need to do the job.
Human skills - The skills you need to be a better human and human skills are the skills that make better leaders." - Simon Sinek
Often, especially in highly technical industries like engineering, manufacturing, technology and science, accidental leaders are promoted into management positions as they rise through the ranks. However brilliant they might be with the technical aspects of their jobs, many of them feel uncomfortable with the human side of leading people. Understanding behaviour, emotional responses, resilience and how to have difficult conversations can be challenging for them. Head of Wellbeing at Marshall Centre, Jo Boyd, has amazing human skills and is currently developing micro-learning sessions with our L&D Manager, Louise Chapman, for leaders who need to improve their human skills so that they can be more effective in their roles.
Today the team at Marshall Centre were fortunate enough to be Jo's test audience for the session she is developing on resilience; what is it, how it affects people's performance, mindset and how to build resilience in ourselves and our teams.
What is resilience?
"The ability of people or things to recover quickly after something unpleasant, such as shock, injury, etc." - Oxford English Dictionary
Many things can undermine our resilience like poor quality sleep, negativity from others, loss of confidence, too much stress, lack of direction and the size/impact of the change/event. However, our resilience exists on a sliding scale, so we can work on improving our own and our team's resilience. One way to do this is to nurture a growth mindset.
What is a growth mindset?
People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is not fixed and can be improved with effort. They welcome critical feedback as they see it as a way to improve and they embrace change because change often means progress. People with a growth mindset tend to be more productive, enjoy developing themselves, are more innovative and enjoy creative problem-solving. These are all attributes that are vital in STEM industries where people are expected to be creative and innovative.
How to nurture a growth mindset?
Anyone can move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and an effective way of doing this is through working on understanding ourselves better as leaders. What our strengths and weaknesses are, who we go to when we need support, how we communicate with others and reflecting objectively on our reactions to situations. The management team at Marshall Centre all completed a Clarity 4D profile and Head of Learning and Development, Darren Jenkins lead a session on our personality preferences. The team have complete transparency of each other's profiles and we are encouraged to provide feedback to each other to better understand how we work as a team. This activity was extremely helpful and we were happy to see a good division of the dominant character traits across the team. This means that our preferences balance each other well and, as a result, we work very effectively as a team.
Another way to improve the team's mindset is to help them discover what their purpose is. To do this, Jo Boyd, introduced us to a Japanese concept called Ikigai (Reason for being). Jo led us through a series of activities to help us discover the things that we love doing, what we are good at, what the world needs and what we could get paid to do. We used this information in different combinations to discover our passion, profession, vocation and mission. This information can then be evaluated to discover what our purpose is. Once we understand what our purpose is, we can then work on mastery.
"Before I worked in marketing, I was a secondary school teacher. I loved it, I was good at it and I think the world needs good teachers, but for me, it was a vocation. Working as a paid teacher nearly killed me; I took on too much responsibility, I was so invested in my students' progress and wellbeing that I stopped caring about my own. This did not end well! When I realised that what I actually loved was education and promoting the benefits of life-long learning, which is something that the world needs and that I'm happy to be paid to do this; BOOM! I found my purpose:
To promote and champion the benefits of a learning culture for an ethical training provider. Encouraging others to continue growing and developing themselves and to discover the benefits that a love of learning brings. So that more people start to question popularly held beliefs and groupthink. This will help us be more open to progress because we will be curious and brave enough to take risks without fear of failure."
- Marketing Manager, Janine Hornsby.
The session lasted around 2.5 hours and it was amazing how much impact Jo had on the group in such a short time. They opened up and shared honestly about how they felt in certain situations.
As a leader, how do you want your team to feel when they come into work?