By Peter White
I have been to many training programs over my 43-year career. In my early days I used to hear about the “soft skills” required for leadership. It took a while but now when I reflect on that comment, I say that leadership is anything but soft. It is hard work.
There are 3 essentials for leadership: Skill, Will and Drill. The “skill” part is the easy bit. Anyone can go to a reputable training program and learn new skills on effective leadership, but from my experience it is the “will and the drill” that determine effectiveness of a leader.
The “will” is the burning desire to model the expected behaviour, make change, make tough decisions or manage poor behaviour. This is a choice that the leader alone makes. If a leader is not prepared to do this, I say that a leadership role is probably not the best option (for all parties).
The “drill” is using the learnt skills day in day out, day in day out. Many leaders go to training courses and have a good time but leave the training at the training venue or start to use the new skills only to revert back when the pressures of day-to-day work life kick in, or they wait for someone else to start (which never happens).
A leader is a walking, talking, breathing symbol and everyone makes judgements about the behaviour that they experience, positively or negatively.
This is why I say soft skills are not part of leadership. Leadership is hard work but very rewarding. It is leadership which creates or shapes culture and it is the culture that ultimately delivers the results (good or bad). From my experience, when the essentials – skill, will, and drill – are applied with consistency and persistence, the results speak for themselves.