What Managers Need to Know

By David B. Sarnoff, Esq.

In almost every industry and profession, artificial intelligence (“AI”), robotics and other technological advances are being incorporated into daily work life.  While it is important for managers to develop and maintain an aptitude and understanding of technology, it is equally important for managers to possess strong “soft skills.”  Soft skills are essential abilities that enable managers to lead effectively, including, by developing collaborative and coordinated teams.

Soft skills include self-awareness, empathy, curiosity, and humility.  These attributes enable effective managers to solve complex problems among staff, encourage teamwork, apply constructive feedback, and resolve disputes among peers or teams.  Soft skills are typically not found among individuals who are arrogant, selfish, jealous, obstinate, poor listeners, and who resist collaboration.  As technology continues to cause disruption in the work place and industry, soft skills become increasingly vital.  Soft skills are a distinguishing characteristic as to which individuals will add value to a company, provide leadership and be able to adapt to a constantly changing employment environment.

Recruiting and hiring are critical aspects of producing a high functioning organization.  And being able to accurately evaluate and assess a candidate’s soft skills is imperative for any organization.  In one actual example, a senior executive who attended an Ivy League school was interviewing a candidate who attended a rival Ivy League college.  During the conversation, the candidate made a disparaging remark about the hiring executive’s alma mater.  While the candidate believed they were bringing levity and humor to the interview, the hiring executive believed it raised a “red flag” as to the candidate’s lack of self-awareness.  The candidate’s willingness to make a disparaging remark in an interview raised the important question regarding how the person would perform when working with colleagues and subordinates in a company that prized collaboration and cooperation.  Regardless of the candidate’s excellent academic credentials, the candidate’s conduct ended any possibility of being hired by that company.  As the adage goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Many successful organizations have leaders and managers who value soft skills.  They believe these skills lead to elevating efficiency, productivity, collaboration and overall improvement in corporate citizenship.  One of the ways these executives and managers develop and nurture soft skills is to retain leadership trainers and executive coaches who provide group presentations and training, as well as individualized coaching and development training for particular managers and other employees.  By developing soft skills of employees and executives at all levels, an organization is incubating leaders at every level of the company.  These exercises also foster buy-in and commitment from employees when they recognize they have input in decisions and believe their voices are heard.  The soft skills of being a good listener, providing constructive feedback, and recognizing the educational and development opportunities arising from tension and discontent, will strengthen and advance the mission of any organization.

While advances in technology could result in a reduction of many tasks currently performed by humans, software applications cannot replace interpersonal skills or emotions, the qualities of empathy or humility, or other characteristics which are essential to building effective and efficient companies and teams.  Soft skills will help companies retain high caliber talent, increase productivity, and enable an adaptable workforce.

David B. Sarnoff, Esq. is a legal recruiter, career coach and leadership consultant. He is the Principal of Sarnoff Group LLC. He has over eighteen (18) years of experience as a recruiter and career counselor. He has placed partners, counsels, associates and groups into law firms. He has also placed attorneys into companies and hedge funds in many cities. He has been a frequent presenter at various Bar Associations on recruiting, career coaching, leadership, marketing and branding for attorneys. Feel free to contact David for a confidential conversation at 646.665.4899 or [email protected]. David also practiced at a New York law firm in the areas of complex commercial litigation and white-collar defense. He is a member of the Board of Education in Fort Lee, NJ and currently serves as the Board President.