Every executive and entrepreneur should know how to use their soft skills to build high performing teams. In this article, I wrote about connect-working and how my ASSET framework is all about using soft skills to build stronger personal and professional relationships. I mentioned that I would share with you another personal framework for developing stronger soft skills, or what some people like to call ‘power skills,’ and that’s the purpose of this article. Since I don’t have a better name for this, I guess we can call it, “Sam Cho’s Triangle” for now.
The triangle outline is actually comprised of 4 connected triangles and looks like this:
Starting at the top of the triangle, having a strong Emotional Intelligence (or “EQ”) is all about having cognitive and emotional empathy for people and situations. If you’re the type of person that struggles with understanding feelings, it might be best to start investing some energy in this area immediately. For practical applications of channeling empathy into your life, check out https://designthinking.ideo.com/ to get a sense of how empathy serves as a core principle in design thinking.
There is no valid reason to suppress our feelings in any relationship or business strategy. We should remember that we always have a choice on how to respond to any given situation. Plans drawn from rational thought and actions taken for a purpose, instead of mere ‘off-the-cuff’ reactions, are generally better because such intentional actions account for risk. By practicing decision making with empathy, we create time for us to think about a situation. A highly calibrated, emotionally intelligent person will outperform any other leader by making better decisions, especially in times of distress.
On the left, we have communication, which starts with listening. This is a core leadership principle that Koinos believes in strongly, as suggested in the quote on our homepage. Since we know that situational leadership includes servant leadership, I believe that every leader of a community (which includes workplaces, companies, institutions, etc.) should be an excellent listener as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said,
“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them.”
This is why we started The Koinos Podcast, to listen to each other’s stories! Have you ever been accused of not listening to someone? Or have you ever felt like the person you were speaking to, wasn’t listening to you? Exactly, by listening first, we will better understand the needs of each other, our customers, companions, companies and communities.
The other part of communication includes written and spoken language. Word choice in both scenarios is extremely important. While the same sentence can mean different things to different people, it doesn’t hurt to have an important e-mail be read by another person that thinks differently than you. Ask a trusted source for their opinion on how your word choice could be rephrased to reduce ambiguity or confusion. Also, try taking some improv classes to improve your verbal communication skills so that you can practice quick thinking and sharing of your most important thoughts in an efficient manner. If you’re worried about an accent, either yours or the people around you, prepare yourself beforehand by listening to YouTube videos of native speakers to better adapt to the conversation. Also, don’t forget that your body language speaks volumes!
Time is the third component of the framework, found on the right. Time management, especially accounting for personal time, is the most important element. Oftentimes, people ask me ‘how I do everything that I do.’ Although it’s true that there are many days (maybe weeks) where I only get 5–6 hours of sleep, I have a habit of doing one thing at a time and giving 100% of my effort to each specific task. I remove myself from any distractions (like my phone, or other websites) and I try to stay laser focused on that one thing that matters most. Depending on the work environment and task, I also would listen to music that fits the particular task. For example, non-verbal music like lofi/chill-hop, classical piano/cello) for long hauls of research. Upbeat EDM or a capella like Pentatonix for analytical data processing. Or no music and just plain noise cancellation mode on the headphones when I just really have to concentrate. I also try not to multi-task, unless the tasks are strongly correlated to each other. How you manage your time often translates into the definition of your personal work ethic. When people start seeing how you use your time to produce your results, people start forming their own opinions on whether or not they can trust your personal output and the outcomes you affect. Find what works for you, these are just examples of how I work best.
In the center of it all is collaboration. I believe soft skills can be called power skills because having a developed skill set in these areas turns oneself into a powerful collaborator. Living in community with one another, whether it’s in the work place, at home, or through a volunteer capacity, is all about working with each other to produce positive outcomes for our world. If everyone spent more time developing their soft skills, our communities would likely evolve into extraordinarily different organisms. If you believe in a world where every leader should embrace these values and principles, please join me and invest more time and energy in this space, together.
Although this framework is still a work in progress, if you fill out the outline with some details, it might look something like this.
If you liked reading this, please watch this webinar, or click on the player below, to see my conversation with Rukshana Hassalini, COO and Co-founder of SoftServe, where we explore the importance of this topic!
Also, don’t forget to check out my podcast at www.koinos.co!
So what do you think? Would you add, replace or remove anything from this framework? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!