Soft Skills for Management Students to Excel

 | August 11,2010 12:30 pm IST

Soft skills is a sociological term for a person's "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), which refers to the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, ability with language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that mark each of us in varying degrees. Soft skills complement hard skills (part of a person's IQ), which are the technical requirements of a job.

A person's soft skill EQ can also be an important part of the success of an organization. Organizations, particularly those frequently dealing with customers face-to-face, are generally more prosperous if they train their staff to use these skills. Screening or training for personal habits or traits such as dependability and conscientiousness can yield significant return on investment for an organization. For this reason, soft skills are increasingly sought out by employers in addition to standard qualifications.


The most important soft skills that are required to any professional in these circumstances are:

Interpersonal skills

Team Spirit

Communication Skills

Business Etiquette

Negotiation skills

Influencing skills



Time Management

Presenting skills


Increasingly, companies aren't just assessing their current staff and future recruits on their business skills. They are now assessing them on a whole host of soft skill competencies around how well they relate and communicate to others. In the most progressive companies, managers are looking for people's ability to communicate clearly and openly, and to listen and respond empathetically. They also want them to have equally well-honed written skills so that their correspondence (including emails) doesn't undo all the good work their face-to-face communication creates. Good soft skills also include the ability of people to balance the commercial needs of their company with the individual needs of their staff.


The ability to deal with differences, multiculturalism and diversity is needed more than ever. Very few companies are untouched by the ever-widening influence of other cultures and good soft skills facilitate better communication and people's ability to manage differences effectively. All these skills are soft and all of them are transferable to the workplace.


With the boom in outsourcing taking root across industries, many professionals and subject matter experts directly deal with their clients on a regular basis. Their approachability and people skills are what ultimately sustain the contract their employers have bagged.


How to Improve soft Skills

There is a lot of argument in the academia as to whether it is possible to enhance soft skills in a few hours of training, especially when one considers the fact that a person has lived with those traits all his life. To this, the answer is harsh but real -a professional who wants to do well in his/ her career does not really have a choice.


In the initial years of your career, your technical abilities are important to get good assignments. However, when it comes to growing in an organisation, it is your personality that matters, more so in large organizations where several people with similar technical expertise will compete for a promotion.


Training on soft skills becomes all the more relevant in a country like India where the education system does not delve into personality development. Soft skills can be developed and honed on an on-going basis through good training, insightful reading, observation and of course, practice, 


It has been suggested that in a number of professions soft skills are more important over the long term than technical skills. The management profession is one example where the ability to deal with people effectively and politely can determine the professional success of a manager more than his or her mere technical skills.

Soft skills training are essential because we do not have it in our academic curricula. There is an urgent need to introduce soft skills as a subject in all courses at Undergraduate and Post Graduate level.