While it's very important to have your industry specific hard skills, however just as critical to your success are your soft skills. Soft skills are how you function at your job in the workplace and interact with other co-workers. While soft skills are not taught in the classroom or measured, these are the key skills that we all must have. In our fast changing work environment, there is a premium on the kinds of soft skills which allow you to keep up the pace with the future of work.
Working and leading from the middle is quite tough. Your boss might have his own priorities. Your direct reports have their own questions. Your peers or colleagues ask you for support and extra projects come your way. The outcome is that you regularly get pulled in different directions. Working very hard and helping others has brought you this far in your career, however new skills are needed now in order to keep growing. We often see that people who are leading from the middle find themselves taking on more work and stuck between the competing priorities that exist within the organization.
Those leading in the middle may be the general managers, regional managers, plant managers, divisional managers, directors and even vice presidents in some companies. However, leading from the middle is not about a position; it’s about meeting the demands from the above while meeting the needs of those working below.
In order to meet the high demand from both up and down, the middle managers need to have 5 most important leadership skills in this fast changing work environment.
Resilience is the ability to come back in the face of the obstacles and failures. When you are resilient, then you don't focus on the ups and downs. Instead, you are focused on the long-term goals and never lose confidence in your ability. Failures are a part of life, but how you deal with those roadblocks is what is critical for success. Resilience enables you to handle stress more positively by helping you in facing the challenges and difficulties effectively.
Thinking and acting systematically needs a lot of self control and clarity. You need to have a good understanding and empathy for others but you can’t anyone allow you to lose your focus or their focus towards the objectives. This requires looking at the big picture, broadening the perspective, seeing patterns in relationships and the processes and dealing with the uncertainties which are part of the complexities of organizations. You need to give up the need to constantly please others.
Communication is one of the core leadership functions which requires the ability to think with clarity and to express the ideas and information to a large group of audiences. Effective communication also needs good listening skills, asking questions, using the right words and actions.
At the workplace, we have to be skilled communicators in all the relationships at the organizational level. Today’s leaders need to learn how to handle the rapid flows of information within the organization and among the customers, partners and other stakeholders. Learn that why communication is very important for the leaders.
In our increasingly super connected world, we’re no longer expected to work only as individuals. Our projects are much more complex now, so the ability to work effectively as part of a team has also grown a lot in importance. Considering the increasingly global nature of work, the ability to collaborate well has become extremely important. We need to share the right knowledge and contribute towards the teams which can capitalize on a diversity of thinking and perspective in ways that everyone can benefit in the long run.
Most often we do not go beyond our immediate job which is assigned and use more knowledge, facts and the data to see the gaps and solve problems. In order to be a good problem solver it is very much essential to go beyond the specified job and walk the extra mile because employers value more the people who can work through the challenges on their own and are an effective member of a team by defining the issues, sharing thoughts , brainstorming alternatives and then making the sound decisions.
Middle managers who spend much time leading from the middle must give up the need to constantly please others. As when you’re pulled from all the directions, it’s important to keep focus on your thoughts and act systematically by seeing the bigger picture and understanding how the various departments of the organization function together. As the middle managers learn how to get things done with the help of others, they become very effective leaders. The higher you go, the more you need to learn how to work through other people and influence the system. There are various middle manager training programs in organizations which are designed to help the middle managers develop the essential leadership skills like how to bridge the gap between senior management and the front line, manage stress, build resilience, collaborate with others and leverage multiple life roles and be successful leaders in the long run.