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Social skills: the must-have for a good manager (at any level)

More than ever, firms are demanding from their leaders the capability to interact, persuade, relate to others, and, most, the ability to listen. A team of researchers including Harvard professors analyzed thousands of executive job search descriptions created between 2000 and 2017.

The paper reveals that companies have become increasingly likely to demand social skills relative to more traditional operational and administrative capabilities. 

Requiring nothing but technical knowledge and experience has remained static or has declined in recent years. On the other hand, the call for social skills has increased, the study says.

The data highlights executive skills that comprise a range of operational, cognitive, and also interpersonal expertise, such as emotional intelligence:

– actively listening;

– empathy;

– persuasion toward a common goal;

– clear communication.

Due to the difficulty in assessing soft skills, the authors emphasize that this growth in importance over time thus calls for investments in screening and high-quality governance approaches to overcome possible matching frictions. In other words, universities and academic institutions play an important role in the formation of executive skills via business education, which has traditionally focused on developing cognitive skills. The paper concludes that increasing the ability to relate to others is an important skill to develop for meeting market demand. 

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Source: The Demand for Executive Skills