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Coaching can help fill the soft skills gap

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  • When it comes to soft skills, acquiring new knowledge and putting it into practice in the workplace entails significant behavioral change. Executive coaching is a powerful way to teach these skills and make sure they stick.

Source | | Luis Velasquez

How can you develop leaders in a way that is fast, cost-efficient and guaranteed?

It is not an easy task to develop people. Finding the right combination of methodologies that will work best for a particular leader with specific needs can be overwhelming. Knowledge transfer and skill building happen in a variety of ways: formal education, self-directed learning, training, mentoring, executive coaching, job rotation, etc.

However, I posit that executive coaching is still the best way to help leaders develop skills that are difficult to teach, measure and sometimes articulate — soft skills.

Company Challenges

The focus of a recent Harvard Business Review article in its Spotlight Series, “Educating the Next Generation of Leaders,” is something that is always on the mind of companies, especially when it comes to high potentials and key employees. Companies spend time and effort developing leaders, but the return on investment is often questionable or the company doesn’t know how to measure it.

There are a huge variety of learning platforms available. Options include executive education, formal leadership development programs, on-demand learning and more. These providers might bring deep expertise in teaching cognitive skills, but they are far less experienced and effective in teaching soft skills such as interpersonal dynamics, influencing, executive presence, empathy and behavioral change.

Additionally, only a tiny group of executives apply what they learn to their jobs. They are exposed to knowledge, but the success of any program is in the follow-up. Anecdotal evidence on skills transfer suggests that barely 10 percent of the $200 billion annual outlay for corporate training and development in the United States delivers concrete results.

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