I’ve never been a fan of the term "soft skills." It gives the impression that leadership skills like communication, empathy, and gratitude are optional for leaders rather than essential. It implies that these skills are not as important as “hard skills,” such as technical proficiency in a job.
Soft skills have been associated with the gentler side of leadership. Executives are reminded to be kind, listen attentively, empathise, and don’t shy away from showing vulnerability. For some leaders, the term “soft skills” brings to mind the image of people joining hands and singing Kumbaya.
What those critics are missing is that soft skills are really people skills, and the most exceptional leaders possess extraordinary people skills. These successful leaders have skills that are far from soft—they are powerful. I urge you to shift your mindset from thinking of people skills to thinking of them as “power skills.”
Read more about Soft Skills : 7 Soft Skills You Should Master To Advance Your Career
Let me share an experience I had this week with an incredible restaurant group called Snooze. They currently operate about 60 locations, so you may not have heard of them yet. However, they are rapidly expanding, and their power skills are remarkable.
Snooze an AM eatery
I was asked to keynote at their annual conference, which had a theme of "Moments Matter."
This emphasised the importance of creating memorable experiences for every guest.
Snooze is a morning eatery, opening its doors at 6 a.m. and closing at 3 p.m. Many of their guests begin their day at Snooze, and the company’s mission speaks about starting each visit with excellent food and enough positivity to last the entire day.
Changing lives, one pancake at a time
Everything Snooze does revolves around their compass, which guides their interactions with guests, their team members (they affectionately call their employees Snoozers), and the communities they serve. Their compass illustrates their passion for their business, encourages individual expression, helps them strive to be the best, and focuses them on creating meals that people love. From what I could see after two days with the group, I can attest they are fully committed to upholding every point of that compass. Spending time with the leaders of Snooze was one of the most invigorating conference experiences I’ve had. This is a group of people who live and breathe their guiding principles.
It only takes a moment to make a difference
Here's my point: A leader can't kindle enthusiasm for work solely with good “hard skills.” Having technical skills and a focus on financial metrics are important in any business, and I recognise their importance. However, your competitors can replicate your products, your pricing, and your operational structure. What they can’t replicate is the passion and dedication that emerge within a team when a leader leads with power skills. When your people believe in the impact of their work, they make a difference; and when they make a difference, they deserve feedback and recognition. That’s leading with gratitude.
At Snooze, gratitude permeated the entire conference. Every leader I spoke with felt acknowledged, heard, and supported in their roles. From the CEO, David Birzon, to the HR team, including Brianna, Jeremy, Tiphani, and numerous others, the few days we spent together was a celebration of people. It was power-ful.
Watch for a Snooze location coming to your town and experience it firsthand. It’s a culture of goodness where people do truly matter and everyone feels supported and empowered. It doesn't get any better than that.
You may like this: Why Empathy Makes for Stronger Organisations
power skills = The new soft skills
As for us, let’s shift the thinking that people skills are soft skills and embrace them as must-have power skills. Your people will love you for it, and you will have greater success and a lot of fun doing it.
Read also : Social Skills You Need As A Leader and How To Be The Leader Your Team Needs
I’d love to hear from you: What power skills do you most admire in a leader?
This article was first published on Chester Elton's LinkedIn.