Every leader spends a great deal of time measuring and reviewing the key performance indicators (KPIs) for their area of responsibility. Naturally, we are keeping track of profits, sales, growth rates, and return on investments.
Part of being an effective leader is identifying what really matters and setting up the right systems to measure it. This is the only way to know for sure how we are doing and if we are moving in the right direction. The famous saying “What gets measured gets managed” by Peter Drucker applies perfectly here. We are much more likely to perform an action if we have a measurable goal attached to it.
Given our inclination to quantify everything, you would think that we would also measure the soft values: how many hours we spend coaching our direct reports, how often we ask for input rather than deciding on our own, how often we interrupt colleagues in meetings. Soft values can be harder to quantify, but they are just as valuable as any financial number.
Why Improve Soft Skills?
The truth is, improving and measuring soft skills will set you apart as a leader, and here is why:
- By setting goals in soft skill development, you make it a priority to improve the relational and behavioral health of your environment.
- By making soft values a priority, you are setting a positive example in your organization that others will take notice.
- By improving your soft skills, others will know that you care about how you treat them which furthers loyalty and trust.
- Those in your environment will become more aware that you are trying to change and will be more supportive of your growth and advancement.
As with any meaningful change, it takes time and commitment – and a measurable goal – to improve soft skills. Just like how additional training and clear targets are applied to improve sales and marketing skills or financial reporting, soft skills require a clear goal and practice over years, even decades. Altering them may take some time, and that is ok. Ultimately, accounting for the soft skills will make you a better person and leader – it’s worth it.