Roger Enrico, the Vice President of Pepsi Co, said, “The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”
Nevertheless exemplary leaders put a hefty focus on how they behave as a leader—the soft-stuff.
Apart from any humanistic motivation, they know that the quality of their relationships and the levels of trust they generate with each of their team members will significantly impact their numbers—the hard stuff.
Will you reflect on your leadership practices and see if you can uncover where you can move closer towards being an exemplary leader?
More About Soft-Stuff
Excelling with the hard-stuff isn’t sufficient in organisations these days.
The soft-stuff is the number one driver for team member engagement. It’s what has your team members displaying the much sort after discretionary effort.
Innumerable observations of leaders-in-action have shown that the more the soft-stuff is neglected the less discretionary effort team members will volunteer. And you’re seriously inhibiting organisational performance whenever you’re hampering discretionary effort.
The problem is that hard-stuff speaks more loudly than soft behaviours. Hard-numbers are straightforward. A budget is either met or not met. The soft-stuff is easier to tiptoe around than the hard-stuff.
Seth Godin, a best selling author and entrepreneurial thinker said:
“The hard stuff is measurable, quantifiable and easy to put into a spreadsheet.
This concrete stuff gives you an easy way to demand a bonus or track progress.
The soft stuff is merely essential, the real reason you do what you do.
Ironically, then, hard is easy and soft is difficult.
The question, I guess, is whether or not you and your team spend most of your time on the hard stuff, merely because it’s easier to measure, to argue about and to hide behind?”
Isn’t It Too “Touchy Feely”, And Unnecessary?
Don’t diminish just how crucial this soft-stuff is by dismissing it as “too touchy feely”.
Because if you’re stepping-up with the soft stuff it’ll mean that, for example, you’re expressing how you feel when your feelings are relevant. This is a crucial component of high emotional-intelligence (EQ).
And yes, if you’re stepping-up with the soft stuff it’ll mean that you’re candidly putting difficult-to-talk-about topics on the table. Again a crucial component of high EQ.
We know that high EQ is good for business. If you don’t, for example, tell the truth about how you’re feeling or take the time to put uncomfortable issues on the table, trust in you and in your organisation will take a dive—and that’s bad for business.
So if this is what you call “touchy feely”, don’t under value it. It’s what will give you and your organisation a competitive advantage.
What Typifies A Great Leader?
An exemplary leader is taking good care of the soft-stuff when they:
- Ensure their stress is at a healthy level so that they are able to “respond” rather than “react”.
- Make sure their team members feel valued and respected. They have them feeling listened to.
- Are curious and genuinely interested in their team members’ perspectives.
- Are transparent with their thought and feelings. They develop trust-filled, connected relationships because of their authenticity.
- Regularly appreciate their team members’ efforts—even when the result wasn’t quite what they were after.
- Don’t let up when it comes to consistently increasing their EQ—the capacity to assess and manage their own and others emotions.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Will you contemplate where you could step-up with this soft-stuff? Will you reflect on where you’re being too fact-driven or too task-oriented?
Will you check where you sit with each of the six bullet points above—and take action if you identify where you can do even better with the soft-stuff?
Remember, it’s good for you and for business.
Please don’t hesitate to give me a yell if you’d like support with this.
P.S. Here’s what one of the leaders I have coached said…
“My program helped me take significant steps towards being the sort of leader that I aspire to being.
It was focussed on my specific wants and needs in a highly constructive and practical way.”
Managing Director, Investment Bank.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.