Tag Archives: soft skills

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using empathy

Leadership Habit 35: Using Empathy

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It seems that most people are promoted in organizations because they’ve shown strong technical skills. They have impressed the CEO with their knowledge and comprehension of business requirements. Are they effectively using empathy?

Technical Expertise

Technical skills are important. The newsflash is, they are not everything. One of the hardest things for emerging workplace leaders is understanding the soft skills side of leadership.

Workplace success typically happens for the most well-rounded people. Certainly, some will cite that playing politics, having friends in the right places, and even gender will play a role. True, they may all be factors, but long-term leadership success needs empathy.

Technical skills won’t take you very far when no one respects the work. Things may implode when no one understands the values, the hardships, and the beliefs required to carry on when everyone wants to quit.

Power of Empathy

Often the hardest skill for the workplace leader is to understand and develop the power of empathy. It is often disregarded as not needed, too soft, or not logical and therefore not required.

In some circles it is common to hear, “Remove the emotion!” And every time a person in a leadership role says that they have just moved one notch farther away from a team who has passion.

Certainly, there are times when decisions must be made that are difficult. They tug at the emotional values of those involved but removing emotion from any organization may be a step in the wrong direction.

Using Empathy

So, it is really the emotional labor that leaders sometimes need to master. They are seldom chosen, at least not consciously, for this skill, but great leaders have it covered.

Engaged teams are running on emotion. Emotion has a lot to do with empathy. When we feel the mechanics of the job are covered what remains?

Using empathy is often challenging, it can’t be delegated, and the emotional labor involved will require patience and energy.

As a leader, using empathy is required. Your team needs it.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating a Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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soft skills

Millennials, GenZ, and Soft Skills

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Somebody once said, “You hire for hard skills and fire for soft skills.” Most people and organizations who have made the investment to hire, certainly don’t want to spend the time and money to replace an employee. Does the millennial and GenZ (Gen 9/11, iGen) population lack soft skills?

Working Across Generations

There seems to be an abundance of opinions surrounding the differences of values and beliefs when working across the generations. Some are likely true, some are likely ill-founded, and still others may be true, but only for some individuals, not all. A popular view of differences between the youngest generations and those who have been in the workforce for some time is that younger generations are doing many of the same things as those who have come before them, they are just doing those things later in life.

There is much evidence of this trend. Consider first jobs, first cars, and first time home buyers. You can also consider the average age of those getting married and the average age of those having children. This seems to be substantiated as nearly every traditional, boomer, or gen X person will agree. Of course it is not absolute, not everyone is in this same place of doing similar things, only later, but many agree there is a trend.

Soft Skills Dilemma

Technology has certainly changed our lives. In world where we are attached to our cell phones, live with mild to severe cases of nomophobia, and sit in small groups paying more attention to our devices than to the person beside us; are the newest generations building soft skills?

Arguably every generation has found a path for communicating, but for more recent generations that path has changed. Traditionals and boomers learned to read body language, monitor the flow of the conversation, and find ways to figuratively read people, long before they entered the workforce. Today we might refer to some of this as emotional intelligence, a soft skill.

Once upon a time interactions were dependent on people, now the interactions are sometimes more dependent on technology. If traditionals and boomers learned much about soft skills before entering the workforce it could mean that todays workforce is coming up short upon entry. In many cases, our daily interactions with people have shifted more towards interacting with a cell phone or a computer.

Many jobs require people to interact (live, face-to-face), brainstorm, and solve problems. People working in groups also face challenges such as differences of opinion, conflicting values, and various interpersonal styles.

So it might beg the question, are the more recent generations rich on hard skills, but short on soft skills?


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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