Everyone knows that financial expertise and operational know-how are vital for executives to manage profitable businesses. Still, nowadays, a new set of skills is even more important, and recent research suggests that leaders with social skills and emotional intelligence are needed most.
The study suggests that what is needed is socially adept leaders, leaders who listen, welcome input and rally their people around them to work towards a common goal. The study analysed thousands of executive job search descriptions over 17 years and found that the demand for social skills is increasing in every category of the economy.
It shows that companies are looking for leaders with soft skills who can actively listen to others; empathise; persuade their employees to work towards a common goal, and communicate clearly.
This is precisely what Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz did in his first week back as CEO. Many believed that is the reason why he managed to save the company. He sat with small groups of employees and listened to them about their challenges, complaints, and personal stories. He prioritised these sessions, which teaches an invaluable lesson in emotionally intelligent leadership: To build trust, you have to listen first.
He shows that when you need to solve your company’s biggest problems, don’t ignore your most helpful resource: your people. In an article about his journey, it was said that meetings with your people will transform them from employees to partners.
Someone with a great passion for people and listening is on our cover this month. Thabo Mongatane strives to live a life of purpose. He says: ‘Purpose is what drives us to excel. Family is one of the biggest things that drives me. Because of that, I can remain grounded, no matter how great or terrible things are.’ Read his story on page 12.
As business leaders, it’s essential to focus on listening – it is an important yet often overlooked aspect of business communication. As a leader, one is naturally filled with ideas, and it’s in one’s nature to want to share that. But great leaders can learn to talk less and listen more over time.
Editor: Accountancy SA
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